Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón — 288 pgs

In this third installment of The Shadow of the Wind series, young Daniel Sempere is all grown up and about to discover the mysterious and painful history of one of his oldest friends, the ever jocular and romantic Fermin. As Fermin’s wedding day approaches, he appears to be suffering greatly, not only in body but in spirit as well. When the nature of his problem is revealed, Daniel agrees that he must help his friend at any cost and give the gift of existence to the man he loves like a brother. As Fermin relates the story of how he became a man with no history, his shocking past comes to light: a past that began when he was arrested in pre-Franco Spain and underwent brutal torture, callous manipulation, and even became involved in the murder of someone whom Daniel once loved and cherished. While this yarn is being spun around the reader, glimpses of the genesis and importance of the second book of the series, The Angel’s Game, begin to coalesce into a very densely woven portrait of the Sempere family, beginning many years before Daniel’s birth. Labyrinthine in its construction, the book brings cohesion to the series and further deepens the mysteries that can only be solved in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. And though this is a complete and definitive work, it leaves the reader with the scent of the hunt on the wind, for some damages cannot and should not be forgiven.

I’ve been a major fan of this series since reading the first book, The Shadow of the Wind, many years ago. I was lucky enough to get a chance to review The Angel’s Game, and though Shadow truly knocked my socks off, Game blew me away with a skill and cunning that I had never known the likes of before. To say that I had been eagerly awaiting this book’s release is an understatement. This is a series that I never fail to recommend to serious readers who are looking for a way to blow their minds wide open, and from what I’ve read in this book, I can already see that there will be another installment in this masterful series. There will be more waiting and more anticipation, for while this book set the stage, I think the real fireworks will be forthcoming in the next installment.

Anyone who has read Shadow will remember Fermin as the garrulous and charming foil to Señor Sempere and young Daniel; but in this book, he is the star. Fermin is universally loved in the city and is treated as a friend and confidante to all who know him. But this Fermin is not the same man he was only a handful of years ago, when he was imprisoned in Fascist Spain and made to dwell in a hovel with others who were captured fleeing the country or for their intellectual beliefs. This Fermin was starved and debased, and utilizing an insane amount of willpower and help from other inmates, he was able to escape that brutal life. But no amount of cleansing can wipe away the horror and stain of nonexistence from Fermin, who is about to be married to the love of his life.

When Daniel agrees to help Fermin create an identity for himself, he gets a lot more than he bargained for. He discovers that one of the men that Fermin was imprisoned with was very ill and was secretly penning a novel called The Angel’s Game, telling his story in the only way he knew how before madness stole his mind. This man not only holds great power in Daniel’s life, he is a source of great shame and sorrow, blowing Daniel’s world apart when Daniel discovers that all the clues lead back to him, again and again. All three books build on each other, and as Zafón beautifully demonstrates again and again, all our stories are tied to each other in ways we can see and ways we cannot.

By the time I reached the final stages of this book, I knew there had to be more coming. From what I read in the last few chapters alone, I’m fairly certain that the next book will be the one that ties all four together in a tapestry of amazing syncopation and terse, tense drama. A lot of what came out of this book was tame compared to the messages in The Angel’s Game, but after reading that book and following through to this one, the implications were not only chilling but downright disturbing. Not at all what I was expecting, but very, very tantalizing. This book gives a roundness and a fullness to what has already been published and sets up some dire situations for the next installment.

As far as recommendations go, I would suggest that readers who enjoy deeply psychological and human stories go straightaway and read all three of these books. The wordplay is sharp, the ideas sharper, and taken as a trilogy soon to expand, there’s a lot here to love. Besides, I need more people to chat with about these intense books. A winner all around.


Author Photo About the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of two critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, is one of the world's most read and best-loved writers. His work, which also includes prizewinning young adult novels, has been translated into more than fifty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.

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TLC Book Tours A warm thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing this book for me to read and review. Please continue to follow the tour by visiting these other blogs:

Thursday, July 5th:No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, July 16th:A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, July 17th:Man of La Book
Monday, July 23rd:Drey's Library
Tuesday, July 24th:Col Reads
Thursday, July 26th:Jenn's Bookshelves
Friday, July 27th:Wordsmithonia
Monday, July 30th:Broken Teepee
Monday, July 30th:A Book Geek
Monday, August 6th:No More Grumpy Bookseller
Tuesday, August 7th:A Novel Source
Wednesday, August 8th:My Two Blessings
Thursday, August 9th:Raging Bibliomania
Friday, August 10th:Kritters Ramblings
Monday, August 13th:Book Him Danno!
TBD:Just Joanna
TBD:Bookworm's Dinner


This book was provided as a complimentary review copy.

26 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I tried reading the first book, but I think it was a little too deep for me! I know he has rabid fans though, and I'm glad to see you enjoy his books so much!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I loved The Shadow of the Wind and have The Angel's Game. Sounds like I better read it so I can move on to The Prisoner of Heaven! Wonderful review, Heather!

bermudaonion said...

The Shadow of the Wind is one of my sister's all time favorite books but I haven't read it yet. Is it necessary to read these books in order?

Ana @ things mean a lot said...

I'm with Jill: I tried him before but just couldn't get along with his writing. But I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as you hoped you would!

Mrs Q Book Addict said...

I've never heard of these books. Now, I'm really curious. Great review!

Ti said...

I love that all of these are standalone novels as well. You don't necessarily need to read them in order, but I do feel as if the reading experience is better of one does.

Darlene said...

I've wondered over and over again if I'd like these books. You make them sound so good. What do you think? You know my tastes - would I like them?

Jenny said...

I really liked Shadow too but I don't remember much of it so I feel like I'd need to re-read that one in order to get a good feel for the series. I don't know... I might need to do that one of these days. Or maybe go straight to The Angel's Game, which I have, and that'll spark my memory?

Alyce said...

There was so much about The Angel's Game that was confusing to me and left me with many questions about what was real. I appreciated The Prisoner of Heaven for it's own story, but also because it gave more perspective to the books that came before it, especially The Angel's Game. I also can't wait to read the next book.

Brooke said...

I've got to give this man another read. I read Shadow a few years ago and thought it decent, but not compelling. Maybe I was just brain dead or something at the time, so I need to try again. So many of the bloggers I trust love him.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Can't wait to try this one. I was surprised by how few pages in comparison to the first 2. Glad u liked it.

Aarti said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! This is one of the first books, I admit, that made me somewhat regret my review policy and standing "No" for blog tours because I want to read it SO BADLY! But I can buy it, of course ;-) I feel like I should reread Shadow of the Wind before getting into it, though.

softdrink said...

I loved, loved, loved Shadow. But Angel's Game confused me, and I wasn't as enthralled. And now I've forgotten enough that I'm not sure about this one. And there's more to come? Argh!

Suko said...

Wonderful review! This sounds like very intense and profound writing.

geosi said...

This is my first time of hearing about the author and the book. Thanks for introducing him to me.

Jenny said...

Okay, I don't know why this happened, but I thought Carlos Ruiz Zafon was dead. Why did I think he was dead? I haven't read The Angel's Game because I thought it was part of a series that was never going to be finished because Carlos Ruiz Zafon had died. And, uh, now I feel very silly.

Athira said...

This is a series I should read. The first book has been on my wishlist forever, and I'm embarrassed that the third book is already out! Loved your review and assessments!

Robin McCormack said...

You said it so much better than I did. Great review!

heathertlc said...

This definitely sounds like a book that is worthy of discussion!

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Book Tour today.

Vasilly said...

Another excellent review, Heather! I have this and Shadow in my tbr stacks. Should I start from the beginning of the series or can I read this book first?

Lisa said...

Well clearly I need to get my fanny in gear and start this series! Great review, Heather!

Harvee Lau said...

I have got to get on the ball and get my hands on this book! Loved Shadow of the Wind!

Marie said...

very convincing, heather! I loved Shadow and haven't read the second book or the third- yet! :-)

Kaye said...

So glad you liked this one. I've read the first two and need to get my hands on this one. Thanks for such a wonderfully comprehensive review. Have a good week!

Stacy at The Novel Life said...

Ever since I read Shadow of the Wind so so many years ago, Carlos Ruiz Zafon has been my all-around favorite author. When I discovered the series would last for 4 books I was so excited ~ and yes, I found the Prisoner of Heaven to be mind-blowing and thoroughly exhilarating!

Buried In Print said...

I didn't love the first book in this series as much as you did overall -- but I did love some aspects of it that much, the atmosphere and, of course, the bookishness -- and I never read on with it. But there is an interview on the BBC World Book Club which does bring out some aspects of the story/author that I thought were very interesting (you can listen to them in podcasts); it made me think that a re-read might be in order. In the meantime, I enjoy reading responses like yours.

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