The Prisoner Of Heaven
- Orion Publishing Co
- Publication Date:
- 21 June 2012
- Modern & Contemporary
Showing 1-4 out of 17 reviews. Previous | Next
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a great story in the tradition of The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. It is the third novel in the series by the popular Spanish writer designed to stand alone and pique the reader's interest in the first two novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. Zafon calls these books "the literary universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books" in his introduction.In this novel, the action begins in 1957 in Barcelona at Christmas time. The main character, Fermin Romero de Torres is working in a bookstore owned by Senor Sempere and his son Daniel. Fermin, who is about to be married, leaves the bookstore one day to take care of marriage preparations. A mysterious crippled man painfully enters the store and buys an expensive copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. He inscribes a note in the novel and asks Daniel to deliver it to the person named in the note. After he leaves, Daniel reads the inscription and sees that the name is that of his friend, employee, and local bon vivant Fermin. It seems to Daniel that there is more to Fermin than meets the eye.The story moves back in time to 1939 to a location of a notoriously bad prison on Montjuic, a hill in Barcelona. Because of his anti-government activity, Fermin has been sentenced to an indeterminate sentence in the hellish institution where brutality and torture are daily occurrences. Fermin is thrown into cell 13. The narrative focuses on Fermin's life in the jail and the fellow prisoners he meets. A particularly interesting inmate is David Martin, a writer imprisoned for expressing supposed anti-government sentiments. He is being blackmailed to ghost-write material for the warden, Mauricio Valls, who claims the productions as his own creative work. Martin's bizarre ranting behavior has earned him the nickname of "the Prisoner of Heaven," but there is a method to Martin's madness.The story unfolds with many twists and turns, friendships and betrayals, sacrifices and expressions of love. The resolution of the mystery surrounding the bookstore visitor is revealed to Daniel as the novel progresses from 1939 forward to 1957. This is an excellent novel that seemed to me flawlessly translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves. I enjoyed every page of the The Prisoner of Heaven and will now go back and read the first two novels in the literary universe Zafon has created.
In "The Prisoner of Heaven", Daniel and Fermin return for another adventure in the dark gothic setting of Barcelona. This story fits in temporally after "The Shadow of the Wind", after Daniel's marriage to Bea but before Fermin's marriage to Bernarda. Martin, the protagonist from "The Angel's Game" also plays a pivotal role in this story as we learn what became of him after "The Angel's Game", but before "The Shadow of the Wind". I loved how this third novel pulled both stories together as it was clever and made both of the other novels make more sense. I must admit that I re-read "The Shadow of the Wind" before I started "The Prisoner of Heaven" so that I would remember the details of the storyline. Now that I have finished both, I will re-read "The Angel's Game", because I want to see how this third novel changes my understanding of the second. Basically, each of the novels are intricately layered and interrelated, which makes for a thrilling reading experience for any true lover of books. Additionally, this book is also exceptionally well-written... just reading these books is a treat for the senses. I would say the only part I didn't like was how gritty and horrifying the prison brutality is in the middle. It was hard for me to stomach, especially since I was so attached to Martin and Fermin as characters. I would strongly recommend that you re-read at least "The Shadow of the Wind" prior to this third novel, as it helps to clarify the details you likely forgot and makes reading this return to Barcelona a much more rich experience.
I loved the entire book from start to finish. The dialogue, imagery, characters and people of Barcelona came alive. I now want to re-read all of the related Zafon books in a different order, as I imagine the story would take on new shape. One of my favorite authors and this latest work did not disappoint.
Books like The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón make me love being not only a reader, but someone who loves the look, feel, and smell of books. Why? Because I get the feeling that Zafón has the same sort of reaction to picking up a book. There's this feeling of history, companionship, and shared experience I get when I handle something old and precious, and a sense of awakening hope for the future when I pick up something new. The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book centering around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, but if you haven't read the other two novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, don't let that stop you from picking this one up - because you see, Zafón has done something brilliant and perfectly fitting with these books. You can start with any book and read them in any order, and they all remain connected through this one, single, perfect place. In this book the story of Fermin Romero de Torres is detailed out piece by fascinating piece, and Daniel is given more information on the history of his parents. The relationship between Daniel and Bea is also in question - and references to both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game crop up throughout the book in, sometimes, the most surprising of places.And let's not forget the fantastic homage paid to The Count of Monte Cristo - because it's there and it's a beautiful thing. Zafón has this way of describing places that are detestable, filled with dirt and filth and corruption, and making it come to life in such a way that I was both fascinated and repulsed at the same time. But then to tie in the literary message - it was a thing of beauty and I cannot stop raving over how good this book was. I devoured The Prisoner of Heaven in about four hours. It is less than 300 pages, and more easily accessible, reading wise, than Zafón's previous books were. His prose is still beautiful - full of flowing lyricism that made me feel, at times, as if I were reading a piece of artwork, but it was more simple, less complicated somehow. Then again, it may just have been the fantastic story being told.If you haven't checked out Zafón's books, or are avoiding them because of the hype, don't. Please. I'm not one to brim with praises for hyped books, but I can say that these deserve every bit.
Reviews provided by Librarything.
No reviews here.