Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Ghostly Mystery

The Prince of Mist
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
translated by Lucia Graves
New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2010.
(first published in Spanish in 1993)

In the summer of 1943, Max Carver and his family move to the seaside. Their new home has been empty for some time, and was built by the Fleishmanns, a couple whose son, Jacob, drowned. The house seems creepy and full of secrets, including a garden of statues surrounded in mist that Max discovers nearby. Max also meets Roland, a boy who promises to take him and his older sister, Alicia, diving to see the Orpheus, a ship whose demise has a mystery of its own.

This debut novel of the author best known for The Shadow of the Wind has been newly translated into English. Though not as polished as his later works, The Prince of Mist definitely has moments of atmosphere that reminded me of Ruiz Zafon's adult books. The backstory is introduced kind of clunkily and the prose doesn't flow as well, but the deliciously creepy mystery kept me reading quickly. This is a story I can recommend to fans of The Ruby in the Smoke and other mysteries with a taste of the supernatural.

I thought it was kind of cool that in the age of adult authors writing for teen audiences, here's one who's debut was, in fact, a teen novel. The book website has a book trailer which is kind of atmospheric on its own.

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