Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Review: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Book #3)
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Release Date: March 12th, 2013 (Reprint Edition) -  originally published July 10th, 2012
2013 Harper Perennial
Hardcover Edition; 279 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-062-20629-9
ASIN: B00851M39S
Genre: Fiction / Historical
Source: Review copy from TLC Book Tours

3.5 / 5 Stars

Barcelona,1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940's and the dark early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.

My Thoughts
The Prisoner of Heaven is one of those books that seems to be a filler for previous novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, and the next one that is coming.  Don't get me wrong however, I enjoyed the trip back to familiar and loved characters, gothic Barcelona, the excitement of learning more secrets and mysteries that have shaped these characters' lives, and the promise of new and interesting developments.  Despite all of this, I still felt like something that was in the previous two novels was missing.  It felt like this was a novel to fill the space and give us a bit more information before the dramatic conclusions and story lines occur in the next novel.

The style in this one seemed so different from the gothic atmosphere of the previous two novels and I really missed that atmosphere.  This story gave us a bit more information on Fermin's background and his stink in prison and his interactions with the other prisoners, including David Martin.  I found that to be quite fascinating as it was certainly a dark period in Spain's history even though the author touched upon it through his literary writing and we were left to our imaginations as well as our historical knowledge to fill in the missing parts.  It made it that much creepier than having the descriptions right in your face, although what was described was awful enough.  I think if I hadn't read the previous two novels, I might have enjoyed it a bit more, but I know what this author is capable of when it comes to atmosphere, technique, and style, I felt that something was lacking in the writing.  It wasn't that I didn't enjoy the novel, I just felt that it wasn't his best work. That being said, I definitely enjoyed Fermin's character much more in this novel as I now have a better understanding of his past.

The Prison of Heaven is one of those novels that should be read in order, otherwise a reader could miss some of the nuances that are sometimes mentioned in the novel.  The story still has a nice rhythm and flow and I did enjoy it very much, just not as much as The Shadow of the Wind.  As I already mentioned, I felt like it was a filler and some information needed to be given to readers before they can indulge in book four when it is released.  The novel definitely ended on a cliffhanger so it didn't really feel complete to me, and I do have a lot of unanswered questions that will hopefully be answered in the following book.  I would definitely recommend it to those who have read the first two in the series, but I don't believe this one is the best place to start if you have not read the others.


  1. I'm looking forward to reading this series but I'll make sure to read it in order - sounds like it is one of those that works best that way.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. I haven't read the series. Excellent review on this book.