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The Prisoner of Heaven.

[EXCELLENT]

Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written books for both children and adults. His novels include the best-selling literary thriller The Shadow of the Wind ([GOOD] July/Aug 2004) and its prequel, The Angel's Game ([GOOD] Sept/Oct 2009). The Prisoner of Heaven is the third novel set near Sempere & Sons bookstore and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

THE STORY: Years have passed since the events that took place in The Shadow of the Wind. Now, in late-1950s Barcelona, Daniel Sempere is a grown man, married to his childhood sweetheart Bea and celebrating the birth of their child, Julian. To add to their happiness, Fermin Romero de Torres, Daniel's close friend, is engaged to be married. All is as it should be, until a stranger with a porcelain hand walks into the Sempere bookshop and purchases a copy of Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo. His appearance compels Fermin to share a story that will take him back to the darkest days of Franco's regime, to the infested prison cells at Montjuic Castle, and to the mysterious prisoner who once resided within its walls.

Harper. 288 pages. $25.99. ISBN: 9780062206282

Guardian (UK) [EXCELLENT]

"Like his countryman Arturo Perez-Reverte, Zafon combines sincere engagement with genre tradition, with clever touches of the literary postmodern. ... This is explicitly, and joyously, a book about books, about what can be learned from them (say, how to follow someone in the street), and what is lost when they are lost."

STEVEN POOLE

Miami Herald [EXCELLENT]

"[T]he Spanish novelist transcends the potboiler formulas of his narrative and steers the reader to ponder the mysteries of language, writing, that vulnerable yet sturdy software we call books and how they relate to the even deeper mysteries of the human condition. ... The Prisoner of Heaven, the third book of what is slated to be a four-installment series, ends with a handwritten note that makes the reader salivate in anticipation." ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ

San Antonio Exp-News [GOOD]

"He did it to me again. ... I always say that I don't like cliff-hangers but this novel leaves me anxious for the next one." ELLEN RIOJAS CLARK

Washington Post [EXCELLENT]

"This slender novel provides some answers to what happened to David Martin, the writer who made a Faustian bargain in The Angel's Game (2009), and to the mother of Daniel, the young hero in The Shadow of the Wind (2004). ... Full of stylish writing, Gothic atmosphere and love letters to 19th-century novels." YVONNE ZIPP

Onion AV Club [FAIR]

"Zafon's imagination is running on fumes. He uses devices--such as a mysterious stranger whose appearance kick-starts the plot--that he's already worn to the nub in his other novels." PHIL DYESSNUGENT

CRITICAL SUMMARY

In The Shadow of the Wind, a motherless boy discovers a cemetery of lost books and is allowed to select one title from the shelves. This choice will alter the course of his life forever. That novel became an international best seller, and critics predicted the same success for The Prisoner of Heaven. Sure, the writing is melodramatic, but that didn't seem to bother most reviewers one bit. Only the Onion AV Club critic remained unimpressed by what he considered Zafon's recycled characters and stale plot lines. Most found the book a rousing adventure story, an intriguing look into the Spanish Civil War, and, like The Shadow of the Wind, a bibliophile's dream. "Maybe its not great literature," wrote the critic from the San Antonio Exp-News, "but what a story! Again!"
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Author:Zafon, Carlos Ruiz
Publication:Bookmarks
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:583
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