Customer Reviews: The Midnight Palace
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on May 5, 2011
If you've read Shadow of the Wind, you'll know that there's not going to be a great deal of difference to the author's style and content when it comes to his earlier children's fiction, now being published in English. The Midnight Palace contains the same sense of adventure and mystery tied up in an elaborate family melodrama with literary references and a clear love of storytelling. Although there are less adult themes, The Midnight Palace is clearly the work of the same author, and it may even be better for the restraint imposed on it being a work for younger readers, and all the more effective in sustaining its magical qualities.

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".
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Reviewed by My Shelf Confessions blog

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.


I really liked The Midnight Palace; I have been a huge fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon ever since I read The Shadow of the Wind. I loved the atmosphere and setting, it's so creepy and the suspense is palpable. The villain is mysterious and otherworldly with supernatural powers, and you're desperately trying to figure out his connection to the children and why he wants them dead. The characters are very likeable, they each have their own unique quirks and interests and they work well together as a group. The pace of the book is top notch, from the very first scene of the book you are turning pages trying to figure out where the story is going and how it will end. This is probably one of the creepiest villains I have encountered in YA so far. I liked it, I liked it A LOT!

I recommend this for all Carlos Ruiz Zafon fans, and YA fans who like mysteries and suspense.
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on April 20, 2011
Once again, Carlos Ruiz Zafon has created characters, atmosphere, and a story that exhibit why he is a master in the tradition of Dumas. This sequel to "The Prince of Mist" gives us a fine story as well as a glimpse into the development of an author who would later write the masterpiece "The Shadow of the Wind." The only drawback to reading this book is knowing that it will be at least another year before a new one comes out.
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on October 4, 2011
Something evil tried to kill Ben the night he was born, although he knows nothing about it. All he knows is that he was raised in an orphanage, and as his 16th birthday approaches he has to decide what he'll do when he has to leave there in a few days. He and his friends of the same age, who form a group they call the Chowbar Society, are celebrating together before they all must leave the orphanage as well. But strange events are about to change their plans.

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.
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on March 6, 2016
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 adult material that his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series have. It is, however, one of my least favorites out of all of his books. It is a step up from Prince of Mist as in age-wise language and content, but not as deep as The Watcher in the Shadows. As for his books for young adults, I prefer Marina the most, followed by Watcher in the Shadows. This one and the Prince of Mist are almost equals in likability.
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on March 26, 2014
The second book in the Niebla (Mist) series takes the story to India in the 1930's. A group of orphans is about to age out and move into the world. One of there number has a hidden past. Ben was brought to the orphanage by his grandmother in order to protect him from a malevolent force, separating him from his twin sister. Their mother died trying to protect them, and they were rescued by a British officer who was a friend of the family who died in the attempt to distract their pursuers. The evil has come back intent on finding the twins, in a blaze of fire.. The two, not knowing either exists, find out the truth and work together with Ben's friends to figure out their past and why they are being pursued. The journey takes them across Bombay, from the former family home, to the train station that was the site of a great tragedy involving a train full of orphans that was engulfed in fire. The friends find peril in their task and when the truth is revealed, it is particularly horrifying for Ben and his sister, Sheere. How far will they go to save their friends and themselves. There is a definite magical/mystical element to the story, which helps to explain away some of the more puzzling aspects of the story. While not a true sequel to the Prince of Mist, it follows a similar theme.
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on October 23, 2015
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. I was told about this author at a book club meeting. His books are addictive.
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on November 4, 2012
Zafon is one of those few writers who is easily identifiable as the author after you read just a few pages. While this book lacks the polish of "Shadow of the Wind" or "Angels Game" it is nonetheless pure Zafon. I never can quite figure out whether I like the supernatural element in his books and whether it's too much or not enough, etc. It's a fine line which authors like Stephen King have walked for years and banked millions of dollars and I'm OK on the three Zafon books I've read. Anyway, a secret club of kids who live in an orphanage in India and who meet in an old, burned-out mansion they call the Midnight Palace. Again, it's hard for me to assess the roles played here as I am totally unfamiliar with India so I don't know if they are written up or down in age but either way they end up as adults handling a death-dealing crisis that one of their friends has suddenly thrust upon him, just at the time he'll be leaving the orphanage. And make no mistake, this work is ALL about the group of six or seven seventeen-year-olds with adults only playing the necessary fill-in roles. I enjoyed it, it's easy reading, the climax is contrived but leaves nothing hanging.
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VINE VOICEon November 23, 2013
This is the third book I have read by Zafon. While my favorite is Shadow of the Wind, this book is excellent.

Others have provided a description of the story, so I won't repeat that here. The author, though, does a great job of balancing past and present; a delicate task for most writers. The characters and story are well-developed, and the book flows in ways that aren't predictable.

This book held my attention throughout and I'm glad I took the time to read it.
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on October 31, 2013
I just started reading this book an I am already almost done. My daughters introduced me to the author and I will definitely buy more of his books. It starts off very well and keeps you interested in the story. I cannot wait to find out how this one ends. I will be ordering more books from this author. The book came on time but the packaging was too large,
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