The Phantom, whose real name is Erik, resides beneath and haunts the Paris Opera House, one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Europe in the late 19th century. The book was originally published in 1910 as a thriller, and has withstood the test of time because of Leroux's ability to weave a character so that the reader is both repulsed by and sympathetic toward the antagonist.
The idea of a love triangle is one of the oldest literary devices, but Leoux paints his characters so beautifully that their story continues to be retold into the 21st century.
Christine Da'ae, the ingenue, is a young dreamer whose imagination is matched only by her father's memory and her love for the opera.
Raoul de Chegny finds himself at the Opera, entranced by the lovely Da'ae, whom he had known as a child.
The Phantom, disfigured from birth, loves Da'ae and comes to her as her "Angel of Music." While he knows she could never love him, he still seeks her heart and hand, destroying anything that may be in his way.
These three characters and the setting of the glamorous and glorious Paris Opera House make this book a magnificent example of the thriller-romance genre.