Having thoroughly loved both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, I can't wait for Carlos Ruiz Zafón to release the newest installment in that series. As a rule, you know I usually try to steer clear from YA material. But when I received a package containing the English translations of two of Zafón's early works aimed at the young adults' market, my curiosity was piqued.
As soon as I was done with George R. R. Martin's multilayered A Dance With Dragons, I knew I needed to read something light. Hence, Zafón's The Prince of Mist appeared to be just what the doctor ordered.
Here's the blurb:
It's wartime, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they've recently bought a home. But from the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners' son, who died by drowning.
With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the strange circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called the Prince of Mist--a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden--an adventure that will change their lives forever.
Although the original story takes place in a town on the southern coast of England during WWII, the author opted for a more generic location for the translation. As is habitually his wont, Zafón's evocative prose paints a vivid picture that makes the town and its characters come to life.
I don't know how he always manages to do it, but Carlos Ruiz Zafón's characterization is the most incredible aspect of this novel. The main protagonists, Max, Roland, and Alicia, are all well-drawn characters. But the supporting cast features a number of intriguing and three-dimensional characters in their own right. By some unfathomable means, the author can, in a paragraph or three, introduce you to an endearing character that echoes with depth. This was the case with both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, but it's even more impressive in a work in which Zafón didn't have that much room to manoeuver.
Zafón's tale brought me back to my early teenage years. If you have ever been forced to move suddenly as a child and your life was turned upside down, The Prince of Mist will bring back lots of memories. Growing up, family, and time are themes which are explored in this book. Although it's a lighter read meant for a younger public, you can nevertheless see the genesis and echoes of a number of storylines that will make the author's future international bestsellers such unforgettable reading experiences.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón's writing style and tone make for a pleasant read. One might think that some of the plotlines are a bit predictable, yet true to himself Zafón has a few unexpected surprises up his sleeve.
To a certain extent, The Prince of Mist is a coming-of-age story which demonstrates that your entire life can change during the course of a summer. The pace is fluid throughout, which means that you'll go through this novel in a sitting or two.
If you are looking for a light yet rewarding read for your summer vacation, you might want to consider Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Prince of Mist.