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Review: The Prince of Mist, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Pages: 202
Original date of publication: 1993
My edition: 2010 (Phoenix)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Waterstone’s, Piccadilly, September 2011

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is best known in the US for his bestselling adult novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game. The Prince of Mist is a young adult novel, published before his adult novels. The novel is the story of Max Carver, a 13-year-old boy who’s watchmaker father moves his family from an unnamed city to an unnamed seaside town. Once there, Max discovers a garden with strange statues and his sisters begin having unexplainable visions.

It’s definitely a first novel, and even though I kept the fact that this is a YA novel in the back of my mind as I was reading, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. The characters are pretty one-dimensional; none of them really grow in any way. Max seemed way too mature and intuitive for a 13-yer-old (even for a novel of this type), and there were some plot elements and coincidences that didn’t make a lot of sense to me—the first of which is that the eponymous Prince of Mist chooses to make his appearances as… a clown?

The book takes place in 1943, but it might as well have taken place in 1993, the year the book was published, because there’s very little to no historical detail. The theme of the passage of time is interesting, and I wish the author had explored that more instead of trying to create cheap, gimmicky suspense. I wish that Zafon had fleshed out his characters more, too, because there was a lot of promise here in the idea for the book. Zafon’s writing style is definitely not developed with this book; luckily, his adult novels are much, much better.


Unknown said…
I didn't know that he had written a YA novel. Thanks for the review on this one. I think I will pass.
starla said…
I've read two of his novels and my sister two other and we realised while talking about them that they had the same characters and many plot elements in common, even the setting was the same (Barcelona). The only difference is the period, and it was important only in The Shadow of the Wind. Terrible. Just terrible.

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