Tag Archives: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Review: The Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780062206282, July 2012, 288pp.)

The Short of It:

A mystery, familiar characters and the lure of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is why I quickly snatched this one up.

The Rest of It:

When I read The Shadow of the Wind years ago, I considered it a stand-alone novel. It was a magical story, beautifully written with a fantastic setting and wonderful, memorable characters. Plus, it introduced me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books which was, to me, such a wonderful invention.   Imagine a large library of forgotten titles, all lovingly preserved…never to disappear from existence. Sigh.

Several years later, Zafon came out with The Angel’s Game which was, at the time, advertised as a prequel to Shadow but the author has said numerous times, that all of the books are stand-alone novels and not meant to be read in any particular order and in the case of Angel, I’d say that fits.  However, The Prisoner of Heaven is a follow-up to Shadow in that our main character is now all grown up, married and a father.  But once again, although we get to know a little more about these wonderful characters, it has its own story to tell.

Daniel and his father continue to run their bookshop, but times are tough and the business has not been doing well. One day, a stranger walks in and buys a very expensive copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, signs it and tells Daniel to give it to his old friend, Fermin Romero del Torres. When Daniel opens the book, he sees that the inscription that the stranger left, is signed Fermin Romero del Torres which is the same name as Daniel’s long time friend. When Daniel shows the book to Fermin, the man has no choice but to share his secret with Daniel and in doing so, is forced to remember a different time, when his days were spent behind bars with a mysterious prisoner by his side.

The book is short so I don’t want to tell you too much about plot because if I do, you won’t read it. What I can tell you is that it isn’t as enthralling as Shadow but it was a solid installment to the series. I enjoyed it much more than Angel. My only quibble was the obvious lead-in to a fourth installment at the end. I knew from reading some other reviews that a fourth book is coming, but I didn’t expect the lead-in to be so obvious. That was really the only thing that stuck out for me.

If you could only read one book, I’d highly recommend Shadow but if you end up falling in love with the characters then you’ll be like me and read all of them just because they are all tied together in some way. This is one series where the setting has you coming back for more, too. Barcelona. Old streets. Gothic structures. Mysterious, sinister characters. Yep, quite enjoyable.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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Review: The Angel’s Game

The Angel’s Game
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Pub. Date: June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780385528702
531pp

The blurb from the publisher:

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed—a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

The Short of It:

Well told and beautifully written, even a tad haunting at times. This one is a bit darker than The Shadow of the Wind. An enjoyable read, but definitely NOT in the same vein as Shadow.

The Rest of It:

I loved The Shadow of the Wind.

Did I love The Angel’s Game? Not really.

Zafon’s writing is flawless, well-structured and poetic, BUT…something was missing and I cannot put my finger on it. A friend of mine suggested that this is a darker tale, and that this is perhaps the difference. That may be, but to me it sort of seemed too familiar to me. As if the story had been told before and I am not comparing it to Shadow when I say this.

Jill over at Fizzy Thoughts mentioned her holy crap moment when she hit page 441. I wanted to have a holy crap moment but when I hit that page, it was like “oh, that’s not good.” I think part of my reaction may have to do with the main character. I didn’t like him all that much. That’s not to say that he wasn’t well-developed (he was) or that he didn’t have the proper motive for his actions (he did). I just didn’t like him. I guess I just wasn’t wowed by the story. It was a tad predictable. Angel’s Game is in fact the prequel to Shadow, even though Shadow came out first. I think I would have enjoyed it more had I read it before Shadow.

Would I recommend it? Most definitely. It’s still one of the best books I’ve read this year, just not one of my favorites.