The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read one of the other books in this series a few years ago, so was pleased when this one jumped off the shelf at me.
Somehow this one wasn’t quite as good as the one I read before (which was much longer). The plot involved a few characters that rang vague bells in the back of my head, with the action jumping between the late 1950s, which was the now, and the late 1930s, the end of the Spanish Civil War, which was then.
The action in the now was very thin. There wasn’t much to keep me engaged, and although there was promise of a grand finale, that stream of action fizzled out with no real conflict or drama. The other challenge the protagonist faced was resolved off-stage which robbed the narrative of what could have been its most interesting part.
The action in the then was much richer (and I think may have included a retelling, from another character’s side, of an incident that happened in the book I previously read). It’s a tale of survival against the odds, along with a nice couple of somewhat literary twists and a couple of well-aimed stabs at literary establishments everywhere. The nasty stuff manages the delicate balance between being cringe-inducing and being gratuitous. A descent into madness is sensitively portrayed, as is the recovery from trauma.
Although I’ve only given the book three stars, I’d love to read the other two books in the series and perhaps, one of these days, save a month to read all four in sequence.