Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Prisoner Of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón Review

I never expected to be back with the first book review of my summer reading challenge so soon but here I am! I chose to start by reading The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Over the last five years, I have read most of Zafón's work and have found them all to be pure escapism. Each story has captivated me and not released me until I read the final page. The Prisoner of Heaven was no exception.

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner Of Heaven book cover

Rating: ★★★
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves)
Publisher: Phoenix
​First Published: 2011 (in Spain as El Prisionero del Cielo)
Genre: Literary Fiction
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #3
Format: Paperback (278 pages)


Barcelona, 1957.

It is the week before Christmas in the Sempere & Sons bookshop. Daniel Sempere has married the love of his life, Bea, and they had a son, whilst their partner in crime, Fermín, has been busy preparing for his wedding to Bernada in the new year. Just when it seems as if luck is finally smiling on them, a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters the shop. He insists on buying the most expensive volume on display - a beautiful illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo - and then proceeds to inscribe the book with the words 'For Fermín Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'.

Who is this man and what does he want from Fermín? The answer lies in a terrible secret that has lain hidden for two decades, an epic tale of imprisonment, betrayal, murder and love that leads back into the very heart of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

My Review

It is with regret that I must confess that this tome has laid dormant on my book shelf for years. What is even more regrettable is that I think I would have benefitted from reading the third novel in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series while the first and second were still fresh in my mind. (Although each of the books within the universe can be read in any order!)

The first novel in the series focuses on the young Daniel Sempere while the second tells the story of writer, David Martin. In The Prisoner of Heaven, both worlds are weaved together as Fermín reveals the secrets of his dark past to Daniel.

While this book had enough suspense to keep me reading, I was a little bit disappointed in the lack of supernatural or fantasy elements that had been a big part of what I loved about the other titles in the series. The tension that usually pours from these elements was replaced by a much more realistic one: the horrific things that human beings are capable of doing.

"One mustn't dream of one's future; one must earn it. And you have no future, Salgado. Neither you, nor a country that keeps producing beasts like you and the governor, and then looks the other way. Between us all we've destroyed the future and all that awaits us is shit..."

Despite a long build-up of tension, it became very evident towards the end that what we (the readers) were anticipating was not going to happen - in this book at least. 

Since I knew that the follow-up, The Labyrinth of Spirits, had been released recently, I rushed to place a reservation at our local library and am now eagerly awaiting notification that it is ready for me to collect. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

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