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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Blip of a Beginning
"Max would never forget that faraway summer when, almost by chance, he discovered magic." So begins The Prince of Mist, the first novel by Spain's most notable literary export since Cervantes. And it's an extraordinary start; punchy, memorable and telling. Combined with the great expectations of all those readers won over by the dizzying charms of The Shadow of the Wind...
Published on 28 May 2010 by Niall Alexander

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Prince of Mist...
I had high hopes for this little book. It was originally created for Young Adults, and though I no longer fit that description these books more than often appeal to readers of any age (Harry Potter, Twilight, anyone?).

It starts out rich, full of mystery and fascination. Max is the son of an eccentric inventor and watch-maker, who has decided that they need to...
Published on 9 July 2010 by Book 1981


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasant Blip of a Beginning, 28 May 2010
This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Hardcover)
"Max would never forget that faraway summer when, almost by chance, he discovered magic." So begins The Prince of Mist, the first novel by Spain's most notable literary export since Cervantes. And it's an extraordinary start; punchy, memorable and telling. Combined with the great expectations of all those readers won over by the dizzying charms of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, it sets a high bar for the remainder of this short, sharp novel to reach.

It's taken nearly 20 years for Carlos Ruiz Zafon's all-ages debut to overcome the language barrier, and it arrives on our English-speaking shores courtesy of the same superlative translator - Lucia Graves - who brought us the author's more adult efforts. In that time, Zafon has been catapulted from moderate renown in a modest nation to global literary stardom, and it's little wonder: The Shadow of the Wind was a spellbinding meta-textual labyrinth of a narrative, and though less critically acclaimed, I found its physical and spiritual successor to be nearly the equal of that unforgettable experience.

The lineage of The Prince of Mist, however, is a less certain thing. The tale of a young boy whose close-knit family the war has forced into a seaside retreat, and who finds in the overgrown garden behind his idyllic new home the beginnings of a mystery that soon comes to captivate his shell-shocked imagination, Zafon's reclaimed debut is fun, no doubt about it, and accomplished - for a first novel - but otherwise... unremarkable. Needless to say it's no regression, but reading a novel divorced from its proper chronological order in which the ideas and themes that so dazzled in Zafon's later adult fiction are but sparks, glittering beneath the waves of the coastal refuge Max finds with a friend, is a curious and somewhat deflating experience.

So put your expectations away: this is not - not quite - the sort of fiction that we have come to stand in awe of Carlos Ruiz Zafon for. In fact, those glimmers that point to the author's eventual literary evolution can be so distracting as to prove problematic. If you can hide that context in the back of your mind, you'll find what The Prince of Mist is, assuredly, is a fine example of fanciful, young adult fantasy. You'll read it in an evening and perhaps forget it in a week, but for those few hours spent immersed in its evocative environs, you can be sure you'll have a jolly old time of it.

The plan is to publish Zafon's three remaining YA novels over the next three years, and I for one will be there for them, but ultimately, The Prince of Mist is but a pleasant blip of a book. Readers of all ages will find within its pages a grand, fast-paced and involving narrative, and while there will be among those a few who hold The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game in such high regard that they'll surely struggle to see past their preconceptions, bear in mind that, in the author's own words, The Prince of Mist "was the book that allowed me to become a professional writer and to start my career as a novelist," and for that - and not that alone, I should stress - we must be thankful.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb Storytelling, 5 April 2010
By 
kehs (Hertfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prince of Mist (Hardcover)
This is a magical book that had me gripped from the very first pages. It starts off as a light read, of a family moving home during the wartime and settling into their new house, but slowly, slowly, the tension mounts until I found I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. About halfway through, the tale becomes haunting and the story turns quite dark and chilling. The author has created a fabulous atmosphere with his masterful style of writing. He captivates with his skilful ability to bring to life a world that only exists in his mind but yet becomes so real for the reader. To be able to create such a vividly alive tale in such a book of only 200 pages is a sign of a naturally gifted storyteller, which Zafon certainly is.

If this is the kind of scary that Ruiz Zafon can create for the YA market then I'd love to read something in this genre by him aimed at adults. Having said that, there are a few plot holes that made me tut out loud, but my copy is a proof so it may be that these small distractions will be ironed out in the final editing.

This was Carlos Ruiz Zafon's first book that he wrote in 1993. It can't be compared to his well-known series beginning with Shadow of the Wind, as it is entirely a different genre and aimed at the YA market. However, it does have the same pulling power and I do want to read the rest of the series. I believe there are 3 more to come.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eerie and scary, 27 Aug 2010
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Hardcover)
Sometimes a foreign author gets a break and manages to sell one of their titles to another nation. Often these books are overlooked or the translation fails to impress the other countries readers. So with a bit of trepidation I gave this title a go, and boy, was I pleased I did.

The story was not only riveting but one that was eerie with a capital E. Whilst it took me a while to adjust to the time period in which its set, I really did get goose bumps as the story unfolded. Whether this is because of the years of horror I have at my disposal I don't know, but Carlos' story was scary it wove its way into the psyche and above all else it was the fear of the unknown that gave this offering the edge. A great offering and one that will definitely stay with me for some time to come. I really do hope that other titles by this author are made available to the UK audience as I'd love to see what else he has in his bag of tricks.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Prince of Mist..., 9 July 2010
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This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Hardcover)
I had high hopes for this little book. It was originally created for Young Adults, and though I no longer fit that description these books more than often appeal to readers of any age (Harry Potter, Twilight, anyone?).

It starts out rich, full of mystery and fascination. Max is the son of an eccentric inventor and watch-maker, who has decided that they need to escape the war raging in the city where they live by moving to the coast. When they move into their new house by the sea, Max finds a graveyard full of marble circus statues and a box full of reels of film. Before long, the mystery of the previous owners son's sudden death starts to unfold.

So already this book has everything it might need to weave a thumping good story - The brave little boy hero, the creepy new house with whispers in the corners, a perfect baddie in the shape of an evil clown and his troupe of delinquents, secrets hidden in the past and clocks moving backwards; romance, magic, suspense. In fact, it was blowing up into such an intricate tale of ghosts, grudges and hauntings that I found myself wondering how on earth all the loose ends were going to be neatly tied up before this tiny book came to an end.

The fact is, though most of the endings were sort of tied up, another 200 pages would have turned this book from a mediocre disappointment into a perfect adventure story. As it is, it feels rushed an unfinished, and so many wonderful ideas are never explored: Max's father is a vivid and original character, full of mischief. From the first page he was portrayed as if he might take a central role in the book, but then he disappears form the story completely. He gives Max a pocket watch with the promising engraving: `Max's Time Machine', but nothing comes of that either - It's just a watch. Also, there is the creepy cat adopted by Max's little sister, which is such a good scary character that it should have been milked properly, but here is another dead end. The clown's evil circus troupe is a fantastic field for story-weaving, but this is also only mentioned in passing.

The shame is the wasted potential, because without a doubt Zafon is a talented writer. He created breathless suspense very easily, but seems to have difficulty following through. The mysteries are so deep and haunting that the only way to validate them is to spend enough time describing them, but it just doesn't happen. My overall impression on finishing this book was one of a very disappointing anti-climax.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, 5 Feb 2012
By 
This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Paperback)
After reading the summary to the Prince of Mist I thought that this has the potential to be an amazing novel. However, it disappointed me a little, probably because I expected too much of it.

Max is a young boy who is moving to a new town on the coast. He moves into an abandoned house full of stories and mystery. The book follows Max, his sister Alicia and their new-found friend Roland as they discover secrets about the place they live and the people they are close to.

There are parts in this book that are downright creepy. A statue of a clown that's facial expressions change every so often? Clowns can be creepy anyway but that oversteps the line. The said parts of the book are really good - they got my heart racing and my hands turning the pages as fast as possible. But to be honest, there were too few of them for me to enjoy the book.

Aside from that, I thought the characters had no real depth to them. They did at first but then they sort of lost it as the story progressed and focused more on the plot. There was no real development in them until the end at which point I pretty much didn't care what happened to them. It's for that reason that I felt like the book was a disappointment. If I don't care what happens to the characters, and something does happen to the characters, then I won't like the whole story - characters are a major deal

Having said that, this book does deserve some credit for how creepy it was at times which is something I love in any book. It just wasn't enough for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A positive example of young adult fiction, 4 Feb 2012
By 
R. A. Davison (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Paperback)
Carlos Ruiz Zafon who is probably best known in the UK for his popular novel The Shadow Of The Wind was a popular young adult author in Spain prior to that books international success and The Prince Of Mist is one such young adult novel, and was in fact his debut. Originally published in Spain in 1993 it was not published in the UK until 2010. As a 30 year old reader I felt it had plenty of crossover appeal.

Max and his family move rather unwillingly at their father's behest to a beach house to avoid the ramifications of the Second World War. Once there Max and elder sister Alicia become caught up in the mystery of the Prince of Mist, a dark and devious figure who casts a shadow upon their new life.

The wonderful thing about The Prince Of Mist is that it doesn't patronise children, Dr Cain is genuinely sinister and the underestimating earnest need to always give children a neat, clean, positive ending is not present here. The narrative is very lyrical and you are fully engaged in the tale. As an adult there is no sense that you are reading a book which isn't really aimed at or meant for you, it is enjoyable despite the setting and the age of the protagonists. There is a physical feeling of this Faustian cloaked menace approaching from a thick mist that leaps from the page as if you stood before him yourself. If you have children around the 12 mark who enjoy reading I would recommend purchasing this and then snaffling it afterwards for yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read., 10 Jun 2010
By 
S. Peggy BLIN "Booklimic" (Mauritius Island) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Hardcover)
What an amazing storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafon is... I loved this book from its very first page. It took me through such a wide variety of emotions. It had me frozen with fear at moments, brimming with curiosity at others, I could almost feel the icy water on my skin & the wind in my hair. I'm impatient to share this story with my kids. Great read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gyrating, layered plot with a lot of originality, 3 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Paperback)
Max and his family of three siblings move to the sea coast during wartime. At the station, however, at his entry to the new place, Max notices that the hands on the clock are moving backwards. There are other strange occurrences. His elder sister, Alicia, becomes brooding and introverted, while his younger sister, Irina, is adopted by an evil-looking cat.

The family's home is by the shore and Max's family is the first to live in it for 18 years, when the doctor who built it in 1925, Richard Fleischmann, lost his only son, Jacob, by drowning when he was aged seven. The doctor died soon after and Mrs Fleischmann soon put up the house up for sale.

Max meets a boy named Roland, who invites him to go diving on a shipwreck of the Orpheus in which his grandfather, Victor, had sailed. Victor has built a lighthouse to protect other ships from the same fate. The three, Max, Roland and Alicia, partake in these the adventures, with spooky tale following spooky tale.

The teens learn about Mr. Cain, who owned a travelling circus, a fortune teller/wish merchant who supposedly died in the shipwreck years ago. He was able to grant wishes, but also as payment, exacted a steep price from his "clients".

There's Roland tale of the Prince of Mist, the shipwreck, the drowning of the small boy. Then Max discovers the creepy and ghostly Garden of Statues near his house, and a graveyard. The statues are circus characters, including a lion tamer, a strongman, fakir, a contortionist all arranged in a star shape - and at their centre is a spooky clown. Max believes the clown's hand has moved whilst he was exploring the garden. He discovers at the clown statue's base a strange symbol: a six-pointed star within a circle. Max and Roland see that symbol again at the bottom of the ocean.

The story follows its path to an ending that I didn't feel was merited, as there was the possibility of debts having been repaid/ unpaid (the reason this is cryptic is to avoid a spoiler).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read. Glimpse of his future work., 30 Jan 2012
By 
This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Paperback)
Like many others, I read "The Shadow Of The Wind" and "The Angel's Game" before diving into this offering from Carlos Ruiz Zafon, his debut novel, and I very much enjoyed reading it. I've also recently finished reading "The Midnight Palace", his second novel, and it's easy to see the progression in his ideas and writing style from a young adult audience, which I guess means 14-18 year olds, to the adult target audience of his more recent work.

"The Prince Of Mist" is an easy to read novel that I finished reading in two days and whilst it didn't grip me as much as "The Shadow Of The Wind", it is an entertaining read that is a great introduction to Zafon's writing style. After reading the four books mentioned above, I'm starting to feel that his books are a tad predictable though. This isn't a major problem, but it would be nice to see a bit more diversity in his future efforts.

I gave this book three stars because it is aimed at a younger audience, which is reflected in the simpler style and vocabulary, and I like stories that have a bit more meat on the bone, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a book for grown up Zafón fans, 10 Dec 2011
By 
Mr. T. S. Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Prince Of Mist (Paperback)
As with the majority of readers, I was drawn to this having loved Shadow of the Wind and very much enjoyed The Angel's Game. Whilst the cover of this book does indicate that this is young adult fiction, it has been put into a binding that appears more of an adult book, and is clearly labelled as being also suitable for adult readers.

Sadly, this is hugely misleading. Whilst there are still elements of Zafón's magical way with words, it is far too simple and uninvolved a read for the average adult reader. It is broadly on a par with the Point Horror series of books I remember reading when I was around 11-14 in terms of complexity of plot, structure and language. Furthermore, the book feels incomplete - several strands of plot that are started are never wound up such as the story of the black cat, the true nature of the statues and the significance of Max's new watch and the clocks running backwards. The ending on a whole is hugely unsatisfying because the book had so much potential and just feels rushed.

As a young adult book, I would give this three stars - Zafón does still have a great storyteller's voice, but the whole thing feels rushed and unfinished. If it were another 100-200 pages longer it could have had the space to develop into an execution to match the idea behind it.
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The Prince Of Mist
The Prince Of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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