The Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I don’t know about you but I loved ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. In fact if you haven’t read it please go to a bookstore/library and get your hands on a copy if you do nothing else today. I know it became one of those books that got incredibly hyped and you saw every Tom, Dick or Harry reading but sometimes (here ‘The Book Thief’ springs to mind) the rave reviews are just and all those people reading the book before you are spot on. So when I was offered an advance copy of his cross over book  ‘The Prince of Mist’ I had to say yes (I know, I know I did the same with The Angels Game and haven’t read it yet – that book is much bigger, ha) though naturally, as you may know my thoughts on cross over books, I was worried this might not really work for me. The fact that in Spain this was a best seller for two years, yes two whole years, made me think I just had to try it.

In thinking of how to write about this book I was drawn to two of the tag lines that I have seen for ‘The Prince of Mist’ one is ‘for the young, and the young at heart’ and the other is ‘nothing is more powerful than a promise’. These do actually really some up the book here and I could say ‘well the job is done then’ and stop here as if you want a book review in two lines I would borrow those. However I think I will flesh it out a little more than that for you.

In the summer of 1943 thirteen year old Max Carver and the rest of the family are rather surprised when Maximillian Carver (Max’s father) decides to relocate his family. Leaving the city is not something the family want to do, however as the war gets nearer a life by the sea seems to be the ideal solution. As the family arrive at the town instantly Zafon starts to let a slight unease build in the story in the forms of the train station clock, which goes backwards, and a rather over friendly large cat (never trust a cat that’s too friendly) who seems intent on befriending them.

Things get steadily creepier as the family are told of the history of the house previously owned by a couple whose child drowned at sea with no explanation. The house itself seems to hold secrets, you never feel alone, and there is that strange cemetery at the bottom of the garden which houses a rather evil looking mausoleum to a clown. As something awful happens to one of Max’s sisters Irina in the house, Max, his sister Alicia and their new friend Roland are drawn into the legend of ‘The Prince of Mist’ and are soon to discover that if you make a promise you have to keep it, no matter what the consequences are.

It’s hard to not get over excited and share too much with a book like this. It does indeed appeal to the young adult in you as you read along. From pretty much the very first page until the last sentence Zafon takes you on a fairly non stop adventure involving secrets, legends, mausoleums, ship wrecks, murder and magic. Whilst all this is going on there is a good dash of emotional drama going on, the upheaval of a family, those dreaded teenage hormones, young love and occasionally the sense of dread of the war in the background, such as when Roland mentions he may have to enrol soon. In fact this was the only teeny tiny thing that stopped this book being a bigger hit for me, I did from time to time think there was almost too much going on, but then isn’t that just what makes for great escapism and a great page turner?

Now I know its meant to be a ghost/horror story for younger people but I have to say it is actually properly scary too, I even jumped reading one bit, something I think books rarely make you do physically. I am very glad that we have another three in this series to look forward to over the next three years. I am almost tempted to go and learn Spanish just so I can read them all in their original form ASAP as I am not sure I can wait a year between each one. 8/10

Have you read any Zafon? Have you read ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and did you think it was superb or not? Which other cross over books would you recommend (no mentioning The Hunger Games, I tried and… well I didn’t get on with it) as after Neil Gaiman and now this I am beginning to get fonder of books that appeal to my twelve year old self? Do you like cross over fiction or do you avoid it like the plague?

Savidge suggests some perfect prose partners:

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (this is much scarier though but just as much fun)
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon (because its excellent and has the tension this one does)
The Woman in Black – Susan Hill (a fantastic adult ghost story)


Filed under Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Orion Publishing, Review

29 responses to “The Prince of Mist – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

  1. Annabel (gaskella)

    I’ve just ordered this so I’m glad you really liked it. I did love Shadow of the Wind, and like you haven’t got round to the Angel’s game yet!

    • I have The Angels Game at the ready I wanted to read it before I see Zafon on Thursday for the BBC World Service Book Club but I am just sadly not going to have time.

  2. Ok, haven’t read anything by him, but I definitely want to! Jumping with fright at a book sounds incredible! Great review.

  3. Jo

    I gave up on The Angel’s game when I tried to read it. It was at a pretty tumultuos time though when nothing was holding my attention! Maybe I’ll try it again. This sounds like one I could read with Dylan though, he always likes something we can both read.

    I think its marketed as young adult rather han crossover but Jeanette Winterson’s Tanglewreck is one I enjoyed. Lots of magic and mystery in that one too (and lots of Quantm Physics which went over my head but that didn’t really seem to matter)! definitely well written and enough depth to keep an adult entertained.

    • Hmmm I have heard a mix of things about The Angels Game, I think I will just have to try it and see for myself.

      I meant to say young adult not crossover, sorry – mind you what is the difference, I guess Twilight is the latter Or is it the former? Oh no have confused myself!

  4. I saw this book previewed about a month ago, and could barely wait to get my hands on it. In fact, what I think I want to do is get the audio and listen to it with my daughter and son. As long as there is no gratuitous language or actual sex in it (please tell me if there is!), I think they would love this. I read Shadow of the Wind and fell absolutely, head over heels in love with the story. I also like The Angel’s Game as well, but it was alot darker and had a serious body count.

    • There is a hint of sex, only a hint but its done in a story fo love and as part of a kind of storyline involving jealousy. I think I want to re-read The Shadow of the Wind before I try the Angels Game… maybe.

  5. I started Shadow of the Wind and did not like it at all. I’m in the minority here, I know. So I don’t think I’ll be reading this one!

    • Any really successful book is going to get people who love it and those that don’t. I am wondering if I need to re-read it to find out why I loved it so much, as it was in the pre-blogging days its all a bit hazy. This one is nothing like it though.

  6. I have told myself that my one solid goal this summer is to read The Shadow of the Wind before I return to school. I have heard SO many good reviews and I want to experience it for myself

  7. I’m a Zafon fan! Looking forward to reading this – still get tingly when I think about Shadow of the Wind – especially the part when he says that ‘by this time, I will be dead’ – made me gasp!

  8. I already wanted to read this book, because I adore Zafon (really, you must read The Angel’s Game!) but you review is making me want to run out now and buy it, take it home and devour it. I love how Zafon creates atmosphere with his words. The Shadow of the Wind remains one of my favorite books.

    And I agree, The Woman in Black is a fantastic ghost story. Her book The Man in the Picture is a short, but Hill managed to scare the pants off me anyway.

    • I most definitley want to read The Angels Game, I am just wondering if I should read it after I have re-read The Shadow in the Win to be honest?

      I loooove The Woman in Black! Its a fantastic ghost story am looking forward to the next one Susan Hill has coming out later in the year!

  9. Bet

    I waa not particularly impressed with Shadow of the Wind. I thought there was much ado about not very much.

    For a prose partner for this book, I might recommend Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger (though I found the conclusion disappointing).

  10. I loved Shadow of the Wind. One of my favourite books last year. However, I read The Angel’s Game and was less than impressed.

    While this one does sound fantastic, I’ll probably skip the hardback and wait for the paperback to come out.

    • I am not sure if this one is coming straight out in paperback (mine was but then review copies often are) I think because of the age range it will be cheaper anyway if it is in hardback.

  11. Eva

    I actually wasn’t bowled over by The Shadow of the Wind (which I read pre-blogging, so I couldn’t tell you why), but your comparison to Graveyard Book and Woman in Black has definitely convinced me to give Ruiz Zafon another short. 😀

    • Oh really, oh thats a shame, though we can’t all love the same books. This is relentless in its energy as well as being just a brilliant tale/ghost story. Obvioulsy its not quite as dark as The Woman in Black.

  12. My daughter and I both read “The Shadow of the Wind” and we would agree with your use of the adjective superb to describe it. However, she is really struggling right now to get through “The Angel’s Game” so I probably won’t pick it up.

  13. I really enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind. I read it quite a long time ago, so I don’t remember any more than I loved it. This one sounds particularly interesting but oh-so-creepy. I’m a scaredy cat, so if I get it, I’ll have to read during daylight hours.

    Great review.

    • Hahahaha its making me giggle how many of us are saying we loved it and cant quite remember why, lol. I do think it needs a re-read. I wouldn’t say it was scary enough for daylight its very creepy though.

  14. I was initially concerned that The Prince of Mist wouldn’t match up to my fantastic reading experiences of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game as it was Zafon’s first novel way back in 1993 but I thought it was excellent and you can see the seeds of his later works.

    I would agree that it is more YA than Crossover but I have recently enjoyed quite a few YA novels including The Graveyard Book, Coraline, Bog Child and Solace of the Road by Siobhan O’Dowd, Gemma Malley’s The Declaration (although I’m not sure if you’re into dystopian fiction??)

    Some which are currently on my radar are Exchange by Paul Magrs and the Neal Shusterman Skinjacker trilogy. I think that Zafon and Gaiman are excellent in this YA gothic genre and it’s difficult to find comparable novels.

    • I should have said young adult, mind you I think really they are the same thing. I have heard mixed things about The Declaration hmmm maybe.

      I have Exchange on the TBR a book with a Simon and a book loving Granny… hmmm sounds familiar!

  15. I re-read The Shadow of the Wind before I read The Angel’s Game and I thought it was worth doing. I need to get The Prince of Mist as soon as possible! I want to buy a copy but maybe I will just pick it up at the library in the meantime.

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