Customer Review

146 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mainly Fermin's story, 21 Jun 2012
This review is from: The Prisoner of Heaven (Hardcover)
I first entered `The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' in 2003 and `The Shadow of the Wind' instantly became one of my favourite novels of all time. 'Then came the darkness of `The Angel's Game' set in the 1920's which introduced the character of David Martin as well as providing a backstory for Sempere and Sons bookshop. `The Prisoner of Heaven' is the third instalment in what has been called a cycle rather than a series and can be read in any order (according to a note at the front of this volume). It begins shortly before Christmas in 1957 and through characters and narrative threads it links the first 2 novels with Fermin taking centre stage.

A stranger enters the bookshop while Daniel is alone and buys a rare edition of `The Count of Monte Cristo' which he inscribes and leaves with a confused Daniel to deliver. Who is this man and how does he know Fermin? Fermin reveals his long and complex history to Daniel, a history which includes David Martin. `The Count of Monte Cristo' plays a central role in this novel in the same way that `Great Expectations' was central to the events of `The Angel's Game'. I read `The Prisoner of Heaven' in one sitting and on finishing it I immediately turned back to `The Angel's Game' which I am reading differently now that I know more of David Martin's history.

This is not another `Shadow of the Wind' but it is an atmospheric and beautifully written novel full of mystery and intrigue and peopled by characters who have become old friends. It adds to the Gothic world that Zafon has created, a world where books are important and powerful and where every book deserves to be saved. His books also explore the very nature of writing, the struggles and obstacles that have to be overcome. Also, as a bookseller I particularly enjoy the descriptions of Sempere and Sons, the kind of bookshop that is unfortunately becoming harder to find. Zafon's love of language and books shines through in `The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' cycle and anyone who loves books should read them.

There is a cinematic quality to the writing and many people wonder why they haven't been made into films, quite simply it is because Zafon does not want this to happen, and basically saying that some books should stay as books , I have no argument with that.

As with any translated novel the choice of translator can make or break, Zafon has found his perfect match with Lucia Graves, I could quite easily believe that they had all been written in English.

Since posting this review I watched a 'Meet the Author' interview with Zafon on the BBC News Channel. He is currently working on the 4th instalment of the cycle and it is to be a Gothic, operatic finale, sounds good to me.

Fans of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle may be interested to know that if you go to Zafon's website you can download music that he has composed and performs as a 'soundtrack' to 'Shadow of the Wind' and 'Angel's Game', some people can be too talented!
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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jun 2012 15:32:49 BDT
Yes all three books have been superbly translated and flow wonderfully well.

Posted on 29 Jul 2012 12:08:33 BDT
genot says:
I whole heartedly agree with you. They are all superb including his shorter ones for Teenagers, The Prince of Mist and The Midnight Palace. I have just noticed his latest one due out in 2013, I can't wait

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2012 08:27:08 BDT
I Readalot says:
Watcher in the Shadows was originally due to be published this year but for some reason has been put back, maybe because Prisoner was published this year and they want to spread his titles out a bit. I can't believe it took so long for his YA books to be published in English. I have read all his books more than once and have noticed something different each time.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 02:31:54 BDT
To I Readalot please: thankyou for your review. Bought this book not knowing of the thread/storyline to his other books, never read this author before.
Love adventure stories and thought I'd love this too. I did. Narrative, humour, suspense, translation all first class. But would you please help me with this?...
I don't get the ending. Daniel investigated Valls' life and rise from archived news stories etc., discovering he had disappeared lately. Wedding happened, stranger at back of room, Daniel thought Martin. At Daniel's mother's grave, statue of angel opens to reveal Valls name and address. No resolution I can gather, open-ended. I was very let down as to who was who and who did what to whom by the ending. Do I need to buy the next book in line to get the ending to this book please? Help. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 08:40:43 BDT
I Readalot says:
I think that you should read the other 2 books in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle while you are waiting for the final one to be published. The ending to Prisoner of Heaven is left open and even though I have read all 3 there are still questions I am waiting to have answered. In Shadow of the Wind Daniel is a child and taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time and comes away with a book called 'The Shadow of the Wind' which leads him on a dangerous adventure and Fermin starts to work at the bookshop. David Martin is the central character of 'Angel's Game' (which is mentioned in Prisoner) and it is set before Shadow of the Wind when Daniel's grandfather is running the shop. As you enjoyed Prisoner I am sure you will love the other 2 and you will learn more about the universe that Zafon has created at the same time.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 09:15:01 BDT
Well thanks very much for being so gracious and prompt in a kind reply. I wasn't sure whether I missed a vital clue, therefore surmised an open ending, and if it was just me that didn't "get it". I'd like to explore more. There was nobody else around here to discuss it with who I know who's read this book. Best wishes, kindest regards.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 10:08:21 BDT
I Readalot says:
Glad to be of help. Think of it this way, you have entered the Cemetery of Forgotten Books universe by a different route than those of us that started with Shadow of the Wind, not the wrong direction, just different. The plot threads from the 3 novels gradually pull together and the characters become like old friends.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 10:18:08 BDT
the books do have a lovely "feeling" to them, despite the hardships of the characters' lives. I just get disappointed at no apparent resolution/ conclusion of the plot, within the retailed book, personal preference, and I guess I expect it but now that I understand more, courtesy of your kind self and other review descreptions, I'll go with it. Thanks again.

Posted on 27 Jan 2013 19:04:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 27 Jan 2013 22:17:55 GMT
I loved The Shadow Of The Wind immensely, and it became one of my all-time favourite novels. I eagerly awaited The Angel's Game but was terribly disappointed in it and was glad to finish it. I crossed Zafón off my must-read list of authors. I am totally undecided whether to make the effort with this one.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jan 2013 20:40:12 GMT
sounds as though you made the decision not to read him but doubting your decision?
I read one only and because the ending was not an ending, I won't buy the next book to find out, when it was marketed as a stand-alone novel. That's what decided it for me.
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