Title: The Prince of Mist
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published: Phoenix, 2011
Synopsis: 1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver's father moves his family
away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as
they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden
filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams
and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past. Most
unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the
mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he
encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow
who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with
the first mists of dawn . . . Originally published in Spain as a
young adult novel, THE PRINCE OF MIST is a mesmerising tale of mystery,
romance and adventure.
Star parts: This book scared the bejasus out of me. I went through a phase as a teenager where I read a lot of Stephen King and Clive Barker. The two of them made me decide that I preferred the real world with all its real horrors than what their imaginations could whip up, so basically I don't do horror anymore. And evidently I didn't realise this was scary when my LOVELY crit partner leant it to me. I put this as a star part because although I am a complete wimp now, Zafon gets it just right. He creeps you right out so that you have to snuggle closer to your cat/loved one/pillow and then he moves us right out to something that we can deal with like a brother and sister relationship, when they both realise that they're moving into adulthood and can stand each other again. That is explored brilliantly. There's a bit of 'lurve' action (I always went through a bit of a Mills & Boon phase and that has possibly left more scars than King and Barker) and it didn't make me go 'yeurghK'. It's not totally scary though. There's obviously the element of a good old mystery tale, where we need to find out who did what and how it will all end.
Black clouds: It's been a while since I read it, but I'm left with this feeling of certain things left unanswered, not big things, but little niggly things. We also never quite know where the story takes places, which for some reason bothered me. When you're reading in translation I always wonder about stuff, and maybe that's why it so bothered me.
Do I recommend it: Bien sur! OK it's scary and all, and I don't do scary, but Zafon can tell a story and create such an atmosphere that you can almost feel smoke curling around your feet and your stomach tense up as Max opens the gate...