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The Midnight Palace Paperback – April 10, 2012
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The Midnight Palace is the meeting place of a group of orphans in Calcutta in 1932 who have formed a secret society where they meet and tell stories, and there's a description in the book of the place exuding an "aura of magic and dreams that rarely exists beyond the blurred memories of our early years". Carlos Ruiz Zafón's writing (which reads extremely well here in a fluid translation) exudes the same aura, finding a potent mix of exoticism, symbolism, adventure and history and tying it into the destiny of two twins separated at birth who, as they reach 16 years of age, are being threatened by a dark magician.
There are many reasons why the book works so well, the author finding an exotic setting, a wonderful group of young orphans each with their own special talents to help each other out, and a thrilling dark fantasy mystery tied up in India's desire for independence, but principally the book extols the virtues of storytelling and thereby inspires the imagination of investigative young minds. Wonderfully written, The Midnight Palace is itself a terrific example of the power of those very same qualities that will work for children and for adults wishing to rekindle that sense of wonder that exists in "the blurred memories of our early years".
The Midnight Palace begins on a stormy night in Calcutta on May 1916; Lieutenant Peake is being chased by assassins as he carries two babies. The lieutenant is able to get them safely into the arms of a woman who he knows will protect them with her life. The woman then makes the momentous choice that in order to protect both children they will need to be separated from one another, so she abandons Ben at the doorstep of St. Patrick's Orphanage with only a letter explaining that his parents were murdered and the murderer swore to kill the child and any descendents.
The night the baby is discovered at the orphanage a strange man named Jawahal stops by unexpectedly and pries for information about the new orphan. The director of the orphanage suspects something is amiss and doesn't share any information with the stranger. Jawahal is particularly interested on what age the orphans are released into the world on their own - 16 years old - and he vows to return at that time.
Ben grows up not knowing his past but gets along well with the other orphans. He also starts a secret society with 6 other orphans, holding meetings at a local abandoned mansion they nickname The Midnight Palace. In May 1932, their lives change forever as every member turns 16 and is about to be released into the world to live their own lives, their secret society disbanded. Unfortunately, things don't go as smoothly as planned, and Ben's past steps back into his life in the form of a girl that appears on the doorstep of the orphanage as they are having a celebration to mark the special occasion. They must all work together in order to discover the mysteries of their past in the hopes they can stop a madman from stealing their future.Read more ›
Ben dreams of a fiery train with children trapped inside. An old woman comes to visit, bringing with her a granddaughter named Sheere. Ben learns Sheere is his twin, and they both are in grave danger from the being who killed their parents. He is called Jawahal, and he possesses extraordinary powers of destruction. Together the friends must find a way to find Jawahal and stop him before he finishes what he started 16 years before.
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is deliciously dark. Zafon has mastered the art of creating mysterious and twisted antagonists, and he excels here with Jawahal, who is a frightening monster who lets nothing get in his way. Don't read this one at bedtime, or you may find that he haunts your dreams.
I recommend The Midnight Palace for ages 14 and up.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Once again Carlos Ruiz Zafon doesn't disappoint. This is a great read and a page turner. Drop the iphone and pick up this novel!Published 24 days ago by Stormy evening
I've worked my way through all of the Zafon books and this is one of the last ones. It is captivating, but yes, is written more for the young adult audience and has less of the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Rosemary B
Very much for the young. Although I love Zafon's novels, I did not find the writing and subject matter a challenging read for an adult.Published 6 months ago by 1029
This is a little different from his other books as it is set in India. Mystery doesn't describe this book. Near horror and I understand it is a children's book. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Tony G
I'm a huge Zafon fan. This wasn't his most suspenseful work, but you have to read it if you are to follow in the footsteps of his other novelsPublished 8 months ago by SoCalGal
I was introduced to this author by a book left at my Bed and Breakfast by a guest. "Shadow of the Wind" was one of the best books I have read in a long time, and I LOVE to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mahina-Sheila
It was written for adolescents and that about says it. Not really worth the read but okayPublished 11 months ago by J. Martin