The Prince of Mist
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
After absolutely falling in love with The Shadow of the Wind I vowed to track down other works by the same author, trusting him completely to take me on whatever journey he wanted. I read The Angel's Game and had mixed feelings about it. I mostly liked it, though. And when I found out another of his books (his first, I think it is) was finally being translated into English... AND it was a young adult novel, I completely freaked out with happy :-) Months in advance, I put a hold on it at the library, and when it finally came in I unashamedly tossed aside whatever I was earreading at the time in favor of it.
I'm very glad I did. While it wasn't the cleverest or deepest of novels, it had a lot of great things going for it. It follows a familiar... well, not a formula so much as a situation: kids move into a house last occupied by a family whose son died. Strange things start appearing-there's a devilish cat, clocks that turn backward, a seriously creepy clown, a garden of statues, a sunken ship, old home movies, something hiding in a wardrobe, etc. Max tries to adjust to his new house and new life. He explores the new town, picks up a friend (Roland), and even becomes closer with his sister, Alicia (who, in turn, becomes close with Roland).
The three new friends soon discover that their adventure is a lot more serious. Max & Alicia's youngest sister is attacked and sent to the hospital in a coma. Something tries to pull Roland down to the shadowy depths of the sunken ship. And that clown statue (in fact, all the statues) actually move. But, more than that, there is Roland's guardian, the lighthouse keeper, who knows a HECK of a lot more than he will admit to.
The story unfolds slowly, piece by piece. And while there are some seriously scary moments, the book didn't pull me in with quite the same Umph that Shadow of the Wind did. I liked it and enjoyed it, but I didn't feel entirely swept up in it. Even in its dark moments, I felt separated from it, like I knew it was just a story and characters would be all right. It wasn't until the big twist (that I should have seen coming and ALMOST got close to guessing but didn't) that it really hit me emotionally. I remember screaming out loud in my car while earreading it at that point in the book.
It's a great story. Definitely not my favorite of his, but I'm very glad I read it just the same. It's got all the elements and good characters. It's beautifully written and a great mystery. But I could have used a little more complexity in the end, I think.
The one thing that scared me more than the life & death struggle of the characters, though, was the prince himself. Holy shnikes, that guy terrified me. Why is it always the charming ones who want to grant you your deepest desire and make your wishes come true that are the scariest guys out there? And not being able to put my finger on the guy and identify him as something or something else was the scariest part of all. The prince changes identities and tactics. Maybe he's a guy at the circus or maybe he's just a shadow--you just DON'T KNOW! He's evil and bad and... there's no way to escape him, especially if you made a promise to him *shiver* He absolutely frightened me by the end of the book.
I highly recommend this on audio as well. The author wrote music that begins and ends each disc. And there are sound effects here and there- so during the horrible rainstorm, you can actually hear the wind and the rain in the background. There's also an interview with the author himself, which is great! I loved hearing his voice finally and hearing some of the answers to the questions about writing in general, his different works, and The Prince of Mist in specific.