Monday, 16 January 2012

Monday Musings: Book Review of The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Young Max Carver moves with his family to a small town on the coast, to a house which once belonged to a brilliant surgeon. From the time they set foot there, though, something doesn’t appear to be right. Max finds an overgrown garden full of creepy statues, his father discovers a collection of old home movies, and one of his sisters is haunted by mysterious dreams while the other hears strange voices. Then, Max meets Roland, another youngster, and finds out about the evil being who is the Prince of Mist…

This is Zafon's first novel, published 20 years ago in Spain but only translated fairly recently, after the massive successes of his two adult books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. Originally a YA book, it is now being marketed as a crossover, and while it has markedly less lyricism of his two most famous works, there are enough atmosphere and thrills to keep the most demanding reader satisfied. If anything, it's perhaps too chilling to be a recommendation for the younger end of the YA scale - I was severely tempted to leave the light on all night after reading it myself! With mysteriously moving statues, scary cats, and the maelvolent Prince of Mist himself, this is a ghost story which could have been written in the 19th century and would have fitted in perfectly with the literature of the day. The prose is rather old-fashioned but this adds to the atmosphere and there’s nothing that young readers are likely to struggle with. It's a short but engrossing read which most people will finish quickly - depending on whether they need to put the book down for a few hours to give their heart rate a chance to recover, at least!

High recommendation to all, particularly fans of Zafon’s adult novels.

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