sevenstories’ #CBR4 Review #52: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
“Barcelona, 1957. It is the week before Christmas in the Sempere & Sons bookshop. Daniel Sempere has married the love of his life, Bea, and they have had a son whilst their partner in crime, Fermin, is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. Just when it seems as if luck is finally smiling on them, a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters the shop. He insists on buying the most expensive volume on display – a beautiful illustrated edition of The Count of Monte Cristo – and then proceeds to inscribe the book with the words ‘For Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future’. Who is this man and what does he want of Fermin? The answer lies in a terrible secret that has lain hidden for two decades, an epic tale of imprisonment, betrayal, murder and love that leads back into the very heart of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.”
The Prisoner of Heaven is definitely an enjoyable read with some great moments and plenty of intrigue but it really felt like a build up towards the fourth and final novel that is planned and is not satisfying enough as a standalone read. It suffers for being weaker than its predecessors. The Shadow of the Wind is absolutely exceptional, The Angel’s Game is good although flawed and unfortunately The Prisoner of Heaven is just a little too mediocre to stand up to their reputation. It does work as part of the series and the love of books and the written word as well as the hugely appealing character of Fermin make it enjoyable but it doesn’t have the depth to stay with you after you’ve finished it.
First Line: “That year at Christmas time, every morning dawned laced with frost under leaden skies.”
Why I read it: I adored The Shadow of the Wind and really enjoyed The Angel’s Game and was keen to see how Zafon would add to the story.
Who I would recommend it to: People who have already committed to Zafon’s Barcelona and have read his previous two installments.