by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I’m huge fan of Zafon’s work and will continue to read anything and everything he writes. This one was originally published in Spain in 1999, before The Shadow of the Wind, and is just now being released in the United States. I feel like that’s important information to have, because anyone expecting the polished work found in his later novels might be a bit disappointed. This one still has his style of writing, but it is a less mature novel, better in theory than in execution. Really that’s good news because it means Zafon just keeps improving as a writer.
The gothic mystery is about a young boy who gets caught up in the midst of a strange and terrifying world. Along the way he meets a young girl named Marina and her kind father. Honestly the book is really scary, in my opinion much creepier than his later work. There are puppets and experiments on the dead that freaked me out a bit. Also, it bothered me that the first lines set up a mystery that doesn’t really live up to its own hype by the end.
The relationship between Marina and her father and our main character gave the story a depth the story desperately needed. The mystery itself wasn’t as good as The Shadow of the Wind, but you can see the early shades of his later work hiding in this book. The plot deals with the ultimate struggle between life and death. We all fight against it and fight to save those we love. It’s hard to accept our fate or the fate of the people who mean the most to us.
BOTTOM LINE: This precursor to Zafon’s more famous work is a must for devotees of the author. But if you’re new to his books just skip ahead and read The Shadow of the Wind to see if he’s up your alley.
"Days fell off the calendar like dead leaves."
"During those weeks I learned that one can live on hope and little else."
"The territory of humans is life," said the doctor. "Death does not belong to us."
**I received a review copy for an honest review.
*Read as part of the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. I'm late to the fun, but I'm going to do the Peril the First, reading at least four books that fit the R.I.P. description (suspense, gothic, thriller, horror, mystery, etc.)