The Prince of Mist

Finally, I have a new review to post!

Since last February, I’ve been counting the days until I could get my hands on a copy of Carlos Ruiz Zaf0n’s young adult novel The Prince of Mist. I got a copy as soon as it hit the bookstores — the first week of May, I think, and read it the very same night. I’ve been meaning to review it for some time now, but work has piled up (again) and I haven’t had the luxury of time for blogging.

Anyway, if you don’t know Carlos Ruiz Zafon, he fast became one of my favorite authors after reading The Shadow of The Wind, the bestselling novel that catapulted him into fame, and earned him the post of Spain’s most widely read contemporary author after Miguel de Cervantes — and Cervantes has had a good five centuries to build up his readership.

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Zafon book out in May!

The best things that I’ve received in my inbox this week is a newsletter from Carlos Ruiz Zafon, stating that his first ever novel, the novel that launched his writing career, will be available (in English) in May!

Lo and behold: The Prince of Mist!


US (left) and UK (right) covers

Hmm, Amazon US says on May 4th (that’s Little, Brown) but Amazon UK (Orion) will release theirs on May 27th (this was also the date on the newsletter, as Zafon is UK based for the moment). The UK edition is so much prettier than the US edition though…

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Falling in love again

cover image from Carlos Ruiz Zafon's site
cover image from

Reading a good novel is like falling in love. There is that first contact, where you sample the first few pages with some reserve, testing the waters to see if the book has potential. You get drawn in and you savor the book with reckless abandon, pouring your heart out in the experience, wanting it to never end.

It does end, inevitably. But unlike most love affairs,whether the novel offers a happy ending or not, your heart doesn’t get broken, and you get to bask in the afterglow of having read a damn good book.

That is exactly how I felt when I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind (let’s call it SOTW for short) last year, which I count as one of the best novels I have ever read. Thus when I heard Zafon was releasing The Angel’s Game (Book #90 of 2009), I was a bit apprehensive as I wondered how it would live up to SOTW.

Of course, that didn’t stop me from calling Fully Booked and reserving a copy (as if people were shipping out to the nearest book stores and buying it in panic) as soon as I got the alert that it was in stock already (June 4th). And that didn’t stop me from braving the rain to get my hands on the book that very same day.

Tonight I finally finished the book, and I am bumping it up the review list (ugh, major backlog) because I know a lot of people are waiting to hear about the book, especially my American readers who will get their copies on the 16th (they’re selling the UK edition here, but I heard Zafon is touring the US – 10 bookmooch points for a signed tpb or hardcover of SOTW? *groveling* and you can send it to my aunt in California, too!)

And because I know these people will read the book too, I promise to keep it spoiler free. Review after the cut.

You can read the first chapter at the Orion website.

Continue reading “Falling in love again”

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

“Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn to forget – we will return.”

This is one of my favorite lines from the book The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which has definitely found its way into my heart — from cover to cover!

Set in the heart of post-war Barcelona, The Shadow of the Wind is an exquisite blend of elements I love in books: literary mystery, horror, romance, and even some swashbuckling action!

In The Shadow of the Wind, 10-year old Daniel Sempere‘s life is changed forever when his father, a bookseller, brings him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books (“Every book, every volume you see here has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it…”).

In the tradition of this labyrinthine repository of obscure tomes, a first-time visitor must choose a book and take care of it forever, making sure it stays alive and never disappears. Daniel is immediately drawn to a handsome volume entitled “Shadow of the Wind,” by a little-known Spanish writer Julian Carax. The mysterious book sets off Daniel’s curiosity about Carax and he embarks on a quest to find out more about the author, whose life gets more and more entwined with Daniel’s as the story progresses.

The beautiful language is lush and wordy, rich with descriptions that just bloom with life — exactly the way I like it. And I like the fact that very few people (well outside of the FFP circle) have heard about it, and that it’s not that easy to find at the book store — it has this word of mouth success that doesn’t need the hype to make it a bestseller.

And the characters — they seemed to jump off the page. Fermin was my favorite — he had the best lines! I loved it when he said:

“Look, Daniel. Destiny is usually around the corner. Like a thief, like a hooker, or a lottery vendor: its three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is home visits. You have to go for it.”

I also felt really sad for the gay watchmaker Federico Flavia, who was persecuted for his flamboyant lifestyle. I like Daniel too, as a protagonist. He is young and impetuous, but is charming and believable, and I think I fell in love with him too.

I’d have loved to write a longer review, but it’s been around nine months since I read the book, and it’s due for a reread this year. But I would have to say that it’s one of the best novels I have ever read, and I loved every bit of it; reading it was one of the best experiences I’ve had with a book — I laughed and cried and seethed and shivered and gushed throughout it all, and I couldn’t put it down. Sigh.

I can’t wait for the prequel, Angel’s Game, due in September 2009.

My copy: Phoenix trade paperback, mooched from Triccie. I want a hardcover. And an illustrated edition.

My rating: 5/5 stars!