Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermin Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past. His appearance plunges Fermin and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.
Full of intrigue and emotion, The Prisoner of Heaven is a majestic novel in which the threads of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game converge under the spell of literature and bring us toward the enigma hidden at the heart of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a collection of lost treasures known only to its few initiates, and the very core of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's enchanting fictional world.
I am in Spain when I read this novel. I am sipping Spanish wine, eating cherry topped caramels, and wandering the labyrinth cobble-stoned streets in search of a little bookshop where I can while away the hours. The Prisoner of Heaven is a book that transports you to another place and another time - you will get lost and found in a world that you will not want to leave. I absolutely found myself falling in love with the story, writing, characters, and ambiance of the book. Does a book have ambiance? Well, this one certainly does. It feels old, spooky, exciting, mysterious, thrilling, suspenseful...a bit gothic, I suppose. You will find yourself immersed in a story that develops quickly and skillfully into a past that will send your mind reeling with a cornucopia of emotions. I loved getting caught up in all of the drama of these fascinating characters' whose pasts were rich and varied beyond my wildest imagination. They are an unforgettable cast that I am looking forward to getting to know via Zafon's previous novels.
You see, The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in Zafon's series, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He actually refers to the quartet (yes, there will be a fourth book) as a book cycle. Zafon wanted each book to be a stand alone novel, so that if the reader was unable to read the books in the order they were published, then they would still be able to follow the thread of story lines and characters with ease and not feel as if they were out of the loop. I love the idea of a book cycle, however, I'm going to have to admit that in the case of The Prisoner of Heaven, I really wish I had read the previous two books (The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game). Don't get me wrong, you can easily follow the story and get caught up in all of the drama - that's not a problem. Its just that certain references are made and you wish that you knew exactly what they were referring to - especially since these characters become so near and dear to your heart. So, obviously I ordered myself the first two books in the cycle and have planned on reading them ASAP, because I just have to know more about Daniel, Fermin and the Sempere family.
In this book, we have Daniel married to Bea and father to Julian - they are a loving and happy family. His father still runs the Sempere & Sons bookstore that Daniel and his family live above. Daniel and his best friend Fermin work at the bookshop. Fermin is getting married to a woman he loves with all of his heart, but lately he has been acting out of sorts. When Daniel receives a strange visit by a new customer who has a message for Fermin, he knows that nothing good is about to come his best friend's way. And so we learn about Fermin and his past and the horrible, horrible pain and suffering he endured, along with the way in which The Counte of Monte Cristo became central to his escape from hell. I won't mention anything else, lest I give away any good details and believe you me, I certainly don't want to do that. All I can do is urge you to read this book and the others from Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Cemetery of Forgotten Books series - you will love love them! Or at least I loved this one and I'm quite positive that I'm going to fall in love with the other two books as well.
The Prisoner of Heaven is a book that I would most definitely recommend to all fans of literature, especially ones who enjoy novels set in Spain or gothic-like books. Here's the link to the rest of the book bloggers on the TLC Book Tour for The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - check out what others are saying about this amazing novel!
TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!