Spotlight: The Monsters of Music by Rebecca F. Kenney

Hi everyone! We have something exciting for you here on the blog today -- a spotlight post for a new gender-swapped Phantom of the Opera story -- if any of you are around the blog a lot, you know Jessica and Emily are HUGE fans of Phantom! So without further ado, let's get into it!

The Monsters of Music
Author: Jacqueline Firkins
Publisher: Rebecca F. Kenney
Ebook, 237 Pages
Published October 2019

Summary: A darkly romantic gender-swapped modern retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, with a scarred Muse girl, a rock-star boy, and a singing competition. For fans of The Wicked Deep (Ernshaw), Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones), American Idol, or The Voice. Mel must share her creative magic or be driven mad by it. But finding her first protégé isn't as easy for her as it is for most Lianhan Sídhe (muses of Celtic myth). Though the women of her race are naturally beautiful, she carries horrifying scars across one side of her face, inflicted by her mother's obsessive boyfriend. And Mel isn't only interested in pouring her creative energy into a man; she wants to use her musical genius herself, too. But the laws of the Lianhan Sídhe, and her own savage appearance, stand in the way of her ever singing onstage. To relieve the painful pressure of her magic, Mel latches onto Kiyoji, a boy with a beautiful voice, and coaches him through a televised singing competition. But neither of them are prepared for the power of their connection, or for the new kind of magic that happens when the two of them sing together.


Having a front-row seat at a singing competition wasn't as exciting as Mel had hoped. 
​First of all, her seat wasn't exactly in the front row. She perched on a beam high above the stage in the vast, gloomy auditorium of the Leroux School for the Performing Arts. Her ripped black skinny jeans and dark gray Beatles T-shirt blended with the shadows shrouding the ceiling, making her invisible, exactly as she wanted to be. From her perch, Mel could see the judges seated at their table, and she could look down on the heads of the singers who clomped hollowly, one at a time, across the boards beneath her.
All day, the hopefuls trotted onto the stage, spilled out condensed versions of their favorite songs, endured the judges' quips, and skipped or slouched to the exit door. Some of them took defeat gracefully, with a nod and a forced smile. Others snorted and stamped like agitated horses, fun to watch, but not to wrangle. Mel wished for some popcorn, settling for the smashed fruit bar she had jammed into her pocket before climbing up to the beam. 
The beam was broad enough for her to lie down on her back when her butt grew numb. In this position, she could still hear the voices without seeing the singers, and sometimes that was better. She didn't want to judge a person's potential by their looks, no matter what her aunt said. 
"Choose someone sexy," her aunt had advised. "You can't do much with certain features or figures, darling. It's too bad, but the world works the way it does. We can't change it, much as we may want to." And she'd reached out to touch the right side of Mel's face, where the skin writhed with hard, lumpy scar tissue. 
Mel raised her fingers up to the scars, tweaking the ridges and tracing the grooves. Prodding the sagging right eyelid. Somehow she had retained most of the vision in that eye. A miracle, the doctors said, and her aunt had scoffed. "Some miracle."
Ten-year-old Mel had endured her treatments in such dogged silence that the nurses praised her constantly. "Such a tough little thing! So strong, so brave!"
They hadn't known that inside she was screaming. Disconsolate. 
Mel sat up on the beam, swinging her bare feet in midair. That was then. Seven years ago. A time and place not worth thinking of, not now, when she was trying to find her first protégé. 
But everyone who had passed across the stage today lacked the spark—the magic, for lack of a better word. She smirked. Humans threw around the word "magic" like confetti, as if its use made a thing more special. Real magic was raw. Visceral. More primal than ornamental. And it certainly couldn't be used to repair a girl's once-pretty face. 

A lifelong lover of stories, I majored in English with a minor in Creative Writing, then took a job in the marketing department of a small educational publisher. I had two kids and transitioned to freelance writing from home. Last year, I took an idea I'd been pondering for years and turned it into my YA contemporary fantasy trilogy. Now I have 15K wonderful followers on Twitter and a new book always in the works!

We'd like to thank Rebecca for being awesome enough to reach out to us about this, and as fans of Phantom, we loved talking about it! So go add this book to your TBR right now! :-)

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