Black Opera- Mary Gentle

A book that is more than 600 page…………

Black Opera is 670……a long 670. I can’t tell you why I chose to read this book. I suppose I was in a rush at the library and it was the first that caught my eye. It looked quite dark and mysterious and I like that. It wasn’t what I expected…..but then did I have any expectations in mind?

Black Opera is as it says in the title really…its about opera. It’s all about opera and Italy. The main character is a man, Conrad, with many versions of his name is goes by. Conrad finds himself in a spot of bother, being an atheist and after an opera house is burnt down, supposedly by God because of Conrad. On his way to imprisonment, he is summoned by the King of the two Sicilies, Ferndinand. Ferdinand discloses information about a secret, Devil worshiping cult called The Princes Men who plot to use opera to cause a catastrophic natural disaster. Conrad has been summoned to produce a counter opera to stop this from happening. Working alongside Conrad is Roberto De Caspiro a prolific, genius composer with a cold personality and a wife who happens also to be a love lost from Conrad’ past. I won’t go further into the plot so as not to spoil it for anybody who is or wants to read the book but the question on mine and I expect most reader lips is; will the miracle be stopped?

I really struggled with this book from the beginning. It didn’t catch me, capture me or invoke me. I couldn’t identify with the characters and struggled to keep up with the terminology. I think you would need to be an opera enthusiast at least for it to appeal. I struggled with the fact that there are ‘returned dead’ and ghosts around. For me a book either needs to be fantasy with clear paranormal activity from the beginning or it clearly doesn’t, and to me this book felt as though ghosts were there for story line convenience. I patiently persisted for the first 400 pages and had a spark of interest when Leonora reveals herself but then soon lost it again. I must admit the final 160 pages were flicked through and the last pages read. I couldn’t endure much more with other inviting books waiting to be read. To me it was all a little bit far fetched and the bottom line was that I just didn’t believe it.

If you are an opera fan then I’m sure you would have much more success with this book than I did. Although I really struggled it is a book that I imagine once your teeth are stuck into is epic; just not more me.

1 star out of 5


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