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The Watcher in the Shadows
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 9 May 2013
'The Watcher in the Shadows' is the 3rd of Zafon's YA novels to be translated and like 'The Prince of Mist' and 'The Midnight Palace' it is scary. Following the death of their father Irene and Dorian move with their mother to the Normandy coast and that is where the adventure begins. Their mother, Simone, has a job as housekeeper for the reclusive Lazurus Jann, who used to be a toy maker making wonderful automatons that almost appear to be alive. The story has a very Gothic feel, as fans of Zafon would expect, and just like his adult novels the narrative is compelling and atmospheric. Shadows and the thought of something lurking in them can very frightening, and Zafon plays on this theme to great effect with the inclusion of the idea of the doppelganger.

The story is full of adventure and mystery with plenty of twists, it is difficult to know what to make of Lazarus, is he good, evil, mad or just sad? This may be classed as YA but it is perfect for adults, particularly fans of the 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' cycle. Once again Zafon has created a great story and told it very well, it is the kind of quality fiction that I would have loved as a child but am still able to love as an adult.

The good news is that his 4th YA novel 'Marina' is due to be published in October, the bad news is that will be the last Zafon until the final installment of 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books', still I can always read them all again in the meantime.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Source: Publisher Review Copy

An enigmatic toymaker who lives as a recluse in an old mansion, surrounded by the fantastical beings he has created. An eerie figure that watches from behin the curtains of a locked room. Strange lights that flicker through the mist from an abandoned lighthouse. A shadowy creature that hides deep in the woods and has already claimed one life. These are elements of a mystery that will bind Irene to Ismael during a magical summer in Blue Bay, when her mother becomes housekeeper to the secretive toymaker, Lazarus Jann.

This was a superb and very creepy read, aimed at children but also perfect for adults, one which I read in one sitting and enjoyed thoroughly.

After the death of their Father, Irene and Dorian move with their mother who has a job with Lazarus Jann a reclusive toymaker. This is a house of mystery though and a peculiar adventure is about to begin..

Haunting and atmospheric, I found this novel to be beautifully written - the first one from this author I have read, and it is storytelling at its best. Absolutely enthralling from start to finish, with some lovely little twists and turns and some poetic prose, it may have you jumping at shadows even as a "grown up" and young adults who adore to be spooked will love this one entirely. A picture painted with words, it really was terrific stuff.

The mythology created is rich, the characterisation is really excellent - especially that of Lazarus, an enigmatic man who is difficult to pin down, and the sense of foreboding is very well done and will keep you off kilter.

A gothic feel throughout, a very addictive read and one that I would highly recommend to both young and old alike.

Happy Reading Folks!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have been a huge fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels for adults for many years. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all time favourite books, it's very different to my usual read, but holds a special place in my heart - for many reasons.

The Watcher in the Shadows is the third of the novels that Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote for younger readers at the beginning of his career in the 1990s, and was recently published here in paperback.

Irene Sauvelle moves with her mother and her younger brother to a large house on the coast of Normandy. At first the family seem to have fallen on their feet. Irene's mother will be the housekeeper for Lazarus Jann. Lazarus is a toymaker, and his house is full of weird and wonderful creations - the perfect place for children to explore ...... or is it?
As Irene falls in love with local boy Ismael, strange things happen. Young girls disappear, shadows appear and menacing, magical forces cause chaos in the forest.

Although the target market is young adults, The Watcher in the Shadows is also perfect for the adult market, especially for those readers who like some gothic horror with some clever creepiness thrown in for good measure. Add that to a great storyline and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's magical writing ability and this is the perfect book to read on a dark evening .... make sure the doors are locked though, as you may find yourself glancing over your shoulder more than once!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2013
Although quite obviously from the outset written for young adults, The Watcher in the Shadows once again why Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a master of modern story telling. His wonderfully conceived plot, character and undeniable flair for writing combine to create a work that possesses that most desired status of literature: it is unputdownable. It is no wonder that revered writers and respected publications alike doff their caps to Ruiz Zafon's literary prowess.

Whilst the plot twists are less subtle than those found in The Shadow of the Wind, the journey through the novel is as immersive and addictive as any of his other works.

To conclude, Ruiz Zafon is without any shadow of a doubt (or the wind), a master of the Gothic novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2013
Captivating read, very well written. Carlos says in preview that this is aimed at young adults but hopes older readers will read it and remember what first brought them to love of books, I am 62 and he got it so right. For me this author can do no wrong.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book was written by the author early in his career and originally published in 1995. So it is both an early work of the author, and a work written for a ‘younger’ audience. How young the author leaves up to his readers – the young, and the young and heart.

The story is set largely in 1937; in 1936 Armand Sauvelle dies, leaving a widow and two children with very little income and large debt. His widow Simone gets an opportunity for a new start with her family as housekeeper at a large residence on the coast of Normandy, the house of the reclusive and wealthy inventor and toy maker Lazarus Jann. The chance seems perfect; the house and area are idyllic, the threat of war far away. Schooling and opportunities are available for the children, and the family settles into their new environment. But the house in the forest of Cravenmoore holds its own secrets, and things are not all as they may seem.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; it is perhaps summed up as a gothic horror, but not so horrifying as to give younger readers nightmares. It is a tale of pasts and promises, of trust and love. A family tale with nuances beyond our normal lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 October 2014
“The Watcher In The Shadows” is a YA book, yet I have not read anything so scary in a while – a perfect Halloween treat for teenagers (definitely not for little ones!). This would make a super scary film!

As in all CRZ books, there is good and bad, loads of twists, interesting personages with stories to tell. The story itself is full of explorations and secrets, and several twists! And nothing is as straightforward as you might think.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2013
I read this book in to evenings ,couldn't put it down.loved it.have read all his books now,shadow of the wind is my favourite book ever,read and you will be hooked.
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If you’ve seen any of my reviews before, or know me personally, you’ll know I’m an avid note-taker. I have books and books of them and unless it’s a ‘Non-Review Bedtime Book Of Joy’ I take notes on almost 90% of what I read. So what accounts for that leftover 10%? That’s reserved for books such as the reissue of Zafon’s third YA novel, ‘The Watcher In The Shadows‘, a novel so immersive and involving I was a hundred pages in before I realised all I’d written down was the title.

I make no secret of the fact I’m a complete Zafon fan-girl (I devoured his ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books‘ trilogy in a week), so my love for this novel will come as no surprise, but I did approach it with caution as I’d not read any of his YA before. (I don’t count ‘Marina‘ as true YA, more ‘New Adult’) I really needn’t have worried. The themes are just as strong and dark, the tension is ramped up high and the imagery is among some of Zafon’s best.

One of Zafon’s abilities as a writer is the depth he gives his characters, and the cast of ‘Watcher’ is no exception. Irene is 14 when having struggled to provide for her family after the death of her husband, her mother Simone takes on the role of assistant and housekeeper to the mysterious Lazarus Jann and they find themselves in the idyllic Blue Bay. You really sense the relief that Simone feels after all her struggle that someone is willing to not only give her employment, but also provide a home for her children (Irene has a younger brother Dorian) as well as their future education. Irene is a strong-willed but vulnerable young lady, ready to take steps into adulthood and young love with local boy Ismael, but they shortly find themselves tied up in the mystery that surrounds Lazuras Jann. Soon, the mysterious force that casts an eerie mist of Jann’s stately house and workshop is released, and rather than cared for, the family finds themselves at great risk.

The big star of the novel is the Gothic atmosphere that drips off every page. The house is full of dark corners, the spooky automatons that Jann has created pop out at the most inopportune moments, and the weather batters the place constantly. There’s just the right level of tension and frights here and genuine moments of peril.

If you’ve never ventured into Gothic horror before, then this is a fabulous place to start. If you have and you’re a fan, then ‘The Watcher In The Shadows’ deserves a place on your bookshelves with the best Bronte, Hill and Shelley.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2014
I'm surprised this book is mainly aimed at a younger audience. I found this quite riveting, right to the last page.

The underlying story was genuinely quite creepy and the descriptions were positively unnerving - the writer got these spot on. (Personally, I won't look at keyholes in the same way again!)

Don't just consider this as a book for 'young adults' and then dismiss it without a second thought. There are several layers to the book that'll gnaw at you, not matter what age you are.

So glad I bought it now, good stuff.
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