I had an excellent surprise a couple of weeks ago, while at my book club at One More Page. We had a lovely discussion of The Gods of Gotham (reviewed here) and then I was doing my usual chatting and browsing when I saw the latest Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I couldn't believe it! With all my knowledge of the book world and publishing dates and the fact that I LOVED The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, I couldn't believe that I didn't know this 3rd book was already out. I love a good surprise like that...doesn't happen nearly often enough.
The very next morning, I had a lovely email waiting for me from Danielle at Harper, and she offered me a copy of the book to review. Again, until 12 hours before I had no idea the book was out, so she totally made my day. The book I had purchased promptly went into the mail to a friend that loves Zafon as much as I do and from what I hear, she's loving it.
So, after savoring the impeccable writing and beautiful language and setting that the author seems to be a master of, I've come to the conclusion that this is the first series where I've loved every single book equally. This one focuses mainly on Fermin, a secondary character in the other books and I was so glad to finally get a bit of back story on him. He's hilarious, but also sort of a lost soul and though we've been given glimpses into his past before, it's all opened up in The Prisoner of Heaven.
Though the main plotline of this story is incredibly tragic and sad, Zafon writes it in a way that still made me laugh and want to keep reading. It wasn't at all heavy, despite the horrors that Fermin endured while in prison and the sadness that Daniel feels while hearing his friend's story. There's suspense and tension in all the right places and such an amazing use of language and setting that you'll feel transported to Barcelona.
This one is a bit shorter than the other books, but just as intriguing and imaginative, meant to be savored and not rushed through. Zafon tells us we can read this one as a 3rd book or a 1st or a 2nd, but I would definitely recommend reading them in order, simply to take in the world of Fermin and Daniel, and the elder Sempere, Isabella, Bea, etc. in the order the were written about. I think you'll get more out of it that way.
Don't hesitate to pick up copies of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game for yourself or pretty much anyone you know. I love, love, love these books and can't recommend them enough!
The Prisoner of Heaven
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Review copy provided by Harper