Shop now Learn more Shop now Shop Clothing clo_fly_aw15_NA_shoes Shop All Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Shop Kindle Paperwhite Shop now Shop Now Shop now

Customer Reviews

88
4.1 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 2 February 2012
The story starts in May 1916 in Calcutta with newborn twin babies being chased by a murderer and ending up being separated when their mother is murdered. The boy, Ben, is brought up in St. Patrick's Orphanage, while the girl, Sheere, is brought up by her maternal grandmother. When they turn 16, the orphans will be turned out onto the world, and Ben will find himself sent back into the waiting arms of the assassin. The twins, Ben and Sheere, are reunited when both are about to turn 16.

With touches of the climax of Harry Potter's final book wherein the soul of Jawalah seeks a human child, though the two books were contemporaneous, THE MIDNIGHT PALACE is a horror story with older teens in its sights. This is felt because it is not a happy resolution, and neither is much of the story pleasant reading - with "pleasant" referred to in the sense of giving comfort - which fare for younger readers is usually given to. The number and graphic details of murders in the book, the heaps of gore and violence, the repeated fiery, phantasmic images (of a train, bridge, a man with a set of fiery fingernails), a pool of blood from a 16-year-old corpse, the smashing of teenagers into every conceivable surface, the vicious (yet inconceivable) villain - all make for an older readership, and yet one that I feel won't be satisfied with all the implausibilities.

The latter includes: the changing rules of how phantoms behave, for example the phantom train sometimes goes through real buildings like a true ghost train and at other times smashes into and burns bridges, yet seven human beings can sit in and run through its compartments; the villain is a phantom who can disappear through objects yet can push human beings around.

Then there are the improbabilities in the plot, which seems wound up and repetitive, and could have been done and dusted in half the book's length. The villain, Jawahal, hunts down and hurts the children's grandmother and headmaster, but leaves the children intact for most of the book - strange. It is left for the last few pages for him to wreak real damage, and then to have done so seems unnecessary and pointless to the plot. The story never answers why the Firebird is so unique or special that Ben and Sheere's father, Chandra Chatterghee (shouldn't it more correctly be, Chatterjee?) gave up his ideals to join up with the homicidal English soldier, Colonel Sir Arthur Llewellyn. It was yet another plot hole.

The parts of the tale describing the desire of colonised India to free itself, and the group of orphans finding companionship in a group they call the Chowbar Society, I found heart-warming and entertaining.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 26 May 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After reading and enjoying Carlos' last adult book 'The Angel's Game' I was looking forward to this, the second volume (translated for UK consumption anyway) he's produced for children.

The tale, in essence, seems fairly banal when given in summary form, but even well-trodden narrative elements can be made compelling in the hands of a modern master like Zafon. It features a demon who pursues orphaned twins (split apart as babies) as they approach the age of sixteen. One of the twins - Shere - was taken away by her grandmother shortly after childbirth, while the other - Ben - was left with a local orphanage. He grows up with the supportive love of a group of fellow orphaned children who form a secret society that meets regularly in a dilapidated building - the Midnight Palace that gives the book its name.

Other reviewers have contended that it is too dark and scary for younger children, and this may indeed be the case. Personally it didn't give me any sleepless nights, but then my imagination will no longer be as well-developed as that of a child's - the author's target audience. I would suggest that if you have any doubts as to its suitability, one useful test would be whether you, as a parent, would allow your child/ren to read later instalments in the Harry Potter series. If the answer to that is 'yes' then you should be okay with 'The Midnight Palace'.

The most important aspects of the book, are the sheer surface brilliance of the prose - kudos to the superb translator - and the wonderful characterisation. If you like a well told story, with a heavy sprinkling of the supernatural, then you or your child may enjoy this book. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an old-fashioned storyteller and this novel teaches the old-fashioned virtues of friends sticking together to overcome adversity. And that, in these selfish times, is a relevant lesson to be learned.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you've read Shadow of the Wind, you'll know that there's not going to be a great deal of difference to the author's style and content when it comes to his earlier children's fiction, now being published in English. The Midnight Palace contains the same sense of adventure and mystery tied up in an elaborate family melodrama with literary references and a clear love of storytelling. Although there are less adult themes, The Midnight Palace is clearly the work of the same author, and it may even be better for the restraint imposed on it being a work for younger readers, and all the more effective in sustaining its magical qualities.

The Midnight Palace is the meeting place of a group of orphans in Calcutta in 1932 who have formed a secret society where they meet and tell stories, and there's a description in the book of the place exuding an "aura of magic and dreams that rarely exists beyond the blurred memories of our early years". Carlos Ruiz Zafón's writing (which reads extremely well here in a fluid translation) exudes the same aura, finding a potent mix of exoticism, symbolism, adventure and history and tying it into the destiny of two twins separated at birth who, as they reach 16 years of age, are being threatened by a dark magician.

There are many reasons why the book works so well, the author finding an exotic setting, a wonderful group of young orphans each with their own special talents to help each other out, and a thrilling dark fantasy mystery tied up in India's desire for independence, but principally the book extols the virtues of storytelling and thereby inspires the imagination of investigative young minds. Wonderfully written, The Midnight Palace is itself a terrific example of the power of those very same qualities that will work for children and for adults wishing to rekindle that sense of wonder that exists in "the blurred memories of our early years".
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2011
This is not a novel for those who are looking for some deepprobing realism. This is adventure! And a good one to that. And as a spoiler for anyone who hasn't read "The Shadow of the Wind" yet, characters in "The Shadow" have their clear ancestors int "The palace" (probably not much of a spoiler). Clearly, Zafon has developed since he wrote this novel, which isn't to say that this is of poor quality. It's just plain, good, entertaining adventure. And perhaps a promise of what was to come later. Buy it, read it, enjoy it!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2011
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of the works of Carlos Ruiz Zafon which have been published in English. This book whilst being written for a younger audience still proved riveting. I have found all of his books captivating from the first to the last sentence and I hope that we will find more of his work available in English in the not too distant future. Zafon is by far my favourite author.The Midnight Palace (Adult Cover)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
VINE VOICEon 14 June 2011
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have had mixed feelings of the work of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, having loved Shadow of the Wind, but been let down by Angel's Game. I haven't had a chance to read Prince of Mist so far, but was really excited to be given the chance to review The Midnight Palace. I'm pleased to say that this book renewed my love of Zafon's work!

The Midnight Palace tells the story of twin children, born into mysterious circumstances. It starts by tempting the reader with a few clues about their past which will not be resolved until the end of the book. It then rewinds to describe in beautiful, well-translated language the story of Ben and eventually Sheere leading them and their friends, who grew up with Ben in an orphanage, through a fantastical and often horrific journey which gripped me from the start.

As a few people have said, I would certainly say this is a book for older children, though it's characters seem a bit young for this age group. I loved the graphically described terrifying sections as I don't think I can say that I've actually been scared by any book since my days of reading horror such as Clive Barker and James Herbert when I was a teenager.

A fantastic, though easy read. Highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
THE MIDNIGHT PALACE is a young adult book, written by Zafon. It is a story with secrets, murders, betrayal and madness at its heart. The mystery of Ben and his sister Sheere, and the entity that is hunting them is a thrilling read. The characters are well developed; the atmosphere is convincing. My only small gripe is that the ending is slightly less dramatic than I was hoping for. To me, it read slightly as though Zafon had created a foe who was so formidable, that even he as the writer struggled to envisage a way in which he would be defeated. In the end, the way he was overcome was disappointing, not living up to the same standard as the rest of the book.
As a young adult book, this is a great success. The pace is fast, the storyline is interesting and engaging with fascinating characters. For young and old, there is much to enjoy, just be prepared for a slightly underwhelming finish.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 25 September 2013
Like many of the reviewers I am a fan of the Shadow of the Wind series of books. Gothic mysteries full of drama, romance, comedy & suspense. The Midnight Palace was written in the 90's and some of its less accomplished parts perhaps show the author was not yet at full speed. My 14 year old son, who loved 'The Prince of Mist', gave up on this one and having read it I can see why. It is by no means a bad book but some of the fantastical events are so far-fetched that the reader is left slightly befuddled. There are probably too many characters to truly connect with in such a relatively short book and the conclusion was a little anti-climatic. Having said that there are some very evocative moments such as snow in Calcutta and ghostly trains. And the epilogue is touching. So in conclusion. Not the best from Carlos Ruiz Zafon but still worth a look if you want an easy escapist read.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2011
A good read,following on from "The Prince of Mist". Having read both "The Shadow of the Wind" and "The Angel's Game". One,hopefully,looks forward to a new work rather than English translations of earlier ones that pre-date the last two. They might be scarey but addictive.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2011
Whilst this isnt the best of his works - it is a great read - I couldnt put it down and read this over the course of 2 evenings.....the writing is so good and you can really "live" the story....at times I was really frightened.. I would recommend you buy this..
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The Prisoner of Heaven
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paperback - 11 April 2013)
£5.99

The Watcher in the Shadows
The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paperback - 9 Oct. 2014)
£3.85

Marina
Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paperback - 12 Feb. 2015)
£3.85
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.