by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Little, Brown and Company
$17.99/$21.99 Can; 200 pages
ISBN 13 : 978-0-316-04477-6
On Sale: 5/4/2010
Age 12 & up
"In 1943, Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an abandoned house that holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind the house Max discovers an overgrown garden surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. In the centre is a large statue of a clown set in another six-pointed star.
As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: Max’s sister Alicia has disturbing dreams while his other sister, Irina, hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. With his new friend Roland, Max also discovers the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach.
As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of a legendary figure called the Prince of Mist begins to emerge..."
Carlos Ruiz Zafón wastes no time prepping the reader for doom. From the onset, when Max arrives in the village where they will live, he notices several oddities, a clock at the station ticks backward not forward. A black cat lands in his little sister’s lap. When she convinces her parents they should keep it, the cats piercing black slitted yellow eyes appear to follow challenge Max. Then, he sees the shape of a black ship, a mirage that disappears over the horizon as he looks out over the water. Zafón easily teases you into the story like a cat and mouse game and you can’t escape the taunt.
When Maximillian Carver opens the front door to their new home....
“a musty smell wafted out through the opening like a ghost that had been trapped between the walls for many years.” (18)
This can’t be good. As they all stand aghast at the dust and film that coats all the surfaces, the cat charges in and according to Alicia, unlike everyone else, appears to like it. Evil lurks everywhere. Mysterious black misty shapes, voices, and a statue that looks like a clown but is anything but.
As I have come to expect in anything written by this author, his imagery is pure word artistry as he leaves no doubt what he sees is what you see. Take for instance this passage:
“Max could hear the storm creeping in behind him, its shadow casting a gloomy shroud over the surface of the road. He turned around briefly and caught a glimpse of the darkness clawing at his back. In just a few minutes the sky changed into a vault of lead and the sea took on a metallic tint like mercury. The first flashes of lightening were accompanied by gusts of wind that propelled the storm in from the sea.” (42)Written for age twelve and up, this will fly off the shelves in bookstores and libraries. As I said in my previous post, Zafon wrote for young adults before his international best selling Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. Reluctant readers will embrace this adrenaline releasing rush of horror. Already a favorite author of mine, there is no doubt that Zafón will command a YA audience with the enthusiasm equal to his adult audience. The Prince of Mist is chilling enough to caution readers they may have to cover there eyes, or at least leave the lights on.
My thoughts:I couldn't help but relate to Max as he was forced to move to a new place, meet new friends and face having to attend a new school. My father's job took my family to many new places, where saying goodbye and starting over was never easy. Making new friends and learning to fit in was both good and bad. I like to look at my glass as half full, so, looking back these experiences while often difficult were never the less memories that I wouldn't trade for the world. However, my childhood imagination was often on high alert and reminds me of Max's world in The Prince of Mist.
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Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review by Little Brown and Company. My honest opinion has been given in this review without bias.
©2010, Wisteria Leigh, Bookworm's Dinner