Series: Cemetery of Forgotten Books

[Gothic Mystery Review] The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted on 08/22/2012 in Book Review / 4 Comments

[Gothic Mystery Review] The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published by Harper on 7/10/2012
Genres: Adult, Mystery
Pages: 279
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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Once again, internationally acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafón creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge, set in a dark, gothic Barcelona, in which the heroes of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game must contend with a nemesis that threatens to destroy them.\r\n\r\nBarcelona,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.\r\n\r\nFull of intrigue and emotion, The Prisoner of Heaven is a majestic novel in which the threads of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game converge under the spell of literature and bring us toward the enigma of the mystery hidden at the heart of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a collection of lost treasures known only to its few initiates and the very core of Carlos Ruiz Zafón's enchanting fictional world.


Carlos Ruiz Zafon continues to write amazing, lyrical prose in The Prisoner of Heaven, the third book in the Shadow of the Wind stories.

It’s 1950s Barcelona and Daniel Sempere is now a man with a wife and a small baby.  He’s still at his father’s bookshop, Sempere & Sons, along with his long-time pal, Fermin, when a stranger walks in one morning, buys the most expensive book in the store, and personalizes for Fermin…from Fermin.  What follows next is the unraveling of a story Fermin would like to forget, and Daniel desperately wants to know, so he can better understand his own past.

I absolutely adored The Shadow of the Wind.  Books about books are captivating and enthralling.  The Prisoner of Heaven is no less so, and Zafon manages to capture all the mystery and intrigue of The Shadow of the Wind and expand on his characters and their pasts in The Prisoner of Heaven, while dabbling in a larger touch of humor.  When I say that Zafon is a magnificent writer, I mean every word.  It is so easy to get lost in his words, and in the pages of his books.  He is such an amazingly prolific writer.

Have I waxed enough poetic yet?

As I said, he expanded on his characters and their stories.  In The Shadow of the Wind, I was very intrigued by Fermin.  What was his story?  He just appeared one day and befriended Daniel, but there was something more to him, I just knew it.  The Prisoner of Heaven focuses heavily on Fermin, where he came from and how he got to Sempere & Sons.  It’s heart-breaking and hopeful, and I felt deeply for him.  Here is a man that wants nothing more than to start over, marry his Bernarda and his past at Montjuic and beyond continues to haunt him.

And while Fermin takes center-stage in The Prisoner of Heaven, Daniel is not left out.  He’s still the main character, even if he has taken a back seat to his own story…because this continues to be his story.  Everything circles back around to him.  He’s also grown from the young boy who was enamored with the beautiful, well-read women in The Shadow of the Wind, to a young man very much in love with his wife, Bea, and their young son, Julian.  It was wonderful getting to know the adult-Daniel in The Prisoner of Heaven; he’s tempered with wisdom and age, but he hasn’t lost that boyish charm!

His father, Senor Sempere, remains the stuffy older Sempere, but now Daniel can see the wisdom in him.  And we, the reader, get to know what’s behind that stuffiness: a private anguish at the loss of his wife, Isabella, so many years before and how it came to that.

There are other characters in The Prisoner of Heaven that are apparently introduced in The Angel’s Game, book two in this set of stories (I’m hesitant to call it a series, because each book can stand on its own rather well).  I’ve never read The Angels Game, and I don’t think that it’s necessary for this book, although I sort of wish I had, because there are tie-ins to it (characters, books) throughout The Prisoner of Heaven.  But I didn’t feel lost without it.  I saw an obvious opening for another book in the ending to this one, and I’m looking forward to it so much, if not for Zafon’s writing, then for the sinister plot I know is to come.

If you haven’t read Zafon’s work yet, I must insist you do so as soon as you can.  The Prisoner of Heaven is a beautiful, poetic masterpiece.



“One mustn’t dream of one’s future; one must earn it.”



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Disclaimers: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads.
*If you decide to purchase this book through any of these links, I do receive a small monetary kick-back that helps fund this blog.


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