Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Harper, 2011

 ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ is the third novel in the series that started with ‘Shadow of the Wind’. In this book, while it’s told from the point of view of Daniel Semper, we learn the ‘origin story’ of Fermin Romero de Torres.

Fermin featured in ‘Shadow of the Wind’ as an accessory character who, while being strong and supportive, provided a comic relief. In ‘Prisoner’, set years before ‘Shadow”, we learn of his past and the true depths of the man. This is a man who is unjustly imprisoned in a hideous place (like many during the Franco rĂ©gime) and barely escaped with his life, but never lost his humanity or his sense of humor. The horrific prison is probably a pretty good description of what really existed at the time, as well as the corruption, greed and fear.

Unlike ‘Shadow’ and ‘The Angel’s Game’, the second in the series, this is a very fast read; it doesn’t have the intricate plotting that those two have. Sadly, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is barely mentioned, there is no magical realism, and Daniel Sempere is acting a bit of an ass in his personal life. But Zafon’s writing is so beautiful that I would forgive him anything; it’s like the prose version of a piece of fancy, but tasteful, jewelry. 


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