By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Ecco, $25.99, 320 pages
Full of intrigue, emotion and sacrifice, The Prisoner of Heaven is another beautifully written tale by Carlos Ruiz Zafon that will completely satisfy, yet leave you wanting more. In this story, Daniel Sempere and his wife are celebrating their new son, Julian, and their good friend Fermin Romero de Torres is about to get married. However, a stranger comes in to the bookshop with an old secret that leads them to search for truths in the past and within the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The resulting adventure may change their lives terribly.
You may be familiar with Zafon’s other books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, which all include the same set of characters and take place in mid-20th century Barcelona. It may seem that this book is out of order, since the plot continues where The Shadow of the Wind left off, even though The Angel’s Game was presented instead as the second book. However, this seems to be a deliberate move by the author to enhance the mystery, depth and anticipation for the reader, who ends up with a more interesting experience because of it.
Strong character development and a smooth plotline weave an intricate story that keeps you wondering where it will go next. The language is straightforward and steady, not as poetic as the first book, but not as dark and morbid as the second one. Although each novel can easily stand on its own, together these three books (with a fourth one to come) interconnect so richly that each one ends up changing your perspective of the others. This book makes you want to read the previous ones again, even if you may have been disappointed by The Angel’s Game. Give Zafon’s Barcelona another try, and you won’t be sorry.
Reviewed by Aimee Rasmussen