The Sultan’s Favorite by Anne Burnside is the single best Phantom of the Opera “sequel” I have read. Much the way Susan Kay’s Phantom retold the original story in fabulous detail; Anne Burnside has opened a window into what happened to Erik after the curtain dropped in the original as well as fleshing out the character’s background and giving us an insight into his thoughts.
The story opens with Erik as the architect in charge of building a fantastic palace for the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. The sultan soon acquires a third wife who quickly becomes his favorite. Erik is drawn to Alexandria for her beauty as well as her intelligence and in the process of working with her on her portion of the palace, he finds himself losing his heart again. Is history destined to repeat itself or is this a woman who can finally see the true man behind the mask? Even then, how can they ever be free to be together?
The writing was riveting and I was sucked into the story from the very beginning. It had everything you could want in a book including romance, action, intrigue, mystery and suspense. The re-emergence of characters from the original Phantom of the Opera merged seamlessly with the new characters. The only fault I could find with this book is that it eventually had to end. Rarely do I read a book that once finished, makes me want to immediately reread it but The Sultan’s Favorite is such a one.
There is even a glimmer at the end (at least to my mind) that a sequel to this book could be possible. If that were true, I would snatch it up in an instant (and perhaps even do a little happy dance). Regardless, this is Anne Burnside’s debut novel and I look forward to reading anything else she comes out with.