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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical storytelling
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...
Published on May 5, 2011 by Keris Nine

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good
This book did have one or two good qualities, but all-in-all I really didn't like it. I liked the author's use of words, but his use of everything else left a lot to be desired.

The main characters, Ben, Sheere, Ian and the others, were all decent, but nothing more. There was nothing special in their personalities beyond the ordinary (and often stupid) behavior...
Published on June 23, 2011 by Lieder Madchen


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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical storytelling, May 5, 2011
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, esp for Carlos Ruiz Zafon fans, May 15, 2011
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
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.

Confession:

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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Novel From Zafon, April 20, 2011
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Mother Daughter Book Club. com, October 4, 2011
By 
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good, June 23, 2011
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
This book did have one or two good qualities, but all-in-all I really didn't like it. I liked the author's use of words, but his use of everything else left a lot to be desired.

The main characters, Ben, Sheere, Ian and the others, were all decent, but nothing more. There was nothing special in their personalities beyond the ordinary (and often stupid) behavior of basically good kids in a bad situation. They were supposed to all be 16, but half the time they seemed younger and the other half they seemed older and that irritated me. You should pick an age and stick to it.

My biggest issue was with the plot. The whole thing was contrived and confusing. The actions of the villain hardly ever made any sense at all and it was difficult to understand what was going on. Everybody behaved in a highly illogical fashion which was weird since they were supposed to be intelligent. The conclusion was confusing and unsatisfying. It would take too long to list all of the strange, puzzling or downright stupid things things all of the main characters as well as the villain did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ghostly story that does not reconcile its elements, February 1, 2012
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
The story starts in May 1916 in Calcutta with newborn twin babies being chased by a murderer and ending up being separated when their mother is murdered. The boy, Ben, is brought up in St. Patrick's Orphanage, while the girl, Sheere, is brought up by her maternal grandmother. When they turn 16, the orphans will be turned out onto the world, and Ben will find himself sent back into the waiting arms of the assassin. The twins, Ben and Sheere, are reunited when both are about to turn 16.

With touches of the climax of Harry Potter's final book wherein the soul of Jawalah seeks a human child, though the two books were contemporaneous, THE MIDNIGHT PALACE is a horror story with older teens in its sights. This is felt because it is not a happy resolution, and neither is much of the story pleasant reading - with "pleasant" referred to in the sense of giving comfort - which fare for younger readers is usually given to. The number and graphic details of murders in the book, the heaps of gore and violence, the repeated fiery, phantasmic images (of a train, bridge, a man with a set of fiery fingernails), a pool of blood from a 16-year-old corpse, the smashing of teenagers into every conceivable surface, the vicious (yet inconceivable) villain - all make for an older readership, and yet one that I feel won't be satisfied with all the implausibilities.

The latter includes: the changing rules of how phantoms behave, for example the phantom train sometimes goes through real buildings like a true ghost train and at other times smashes into and burns bridges, yet seven human beings can sit in and run through its compartments; the villain is a phantom who can disappear through objects yet can push human beings around.

Then there are the improbabilities in the plot, which seems wound up and repetitive, and could have been done and dusted in half the book's length. The villain, Jawahal, hunts down and hurts the children's grandmother and headmaster, but leaves the children intact for most of the book - strange. It is left for the last few pages for him to wreak real damage, and then to have done so seems unnecessary and pointless to the plot. The story never answers why the Firebird is so unique or special that Ben and Sheere's father, Chandra Chatterghee (shouldn't it more correctly be, Chatterjee?) gave up his ideals to join up with the homicidal English soldier, Colonel Sir Arthur Llewellyn. It was yet another plot hole.

The parts of the tale describing the desire of colonised India to free itself, and the group of orphans finding companionship in a group they call the Chowbar Society, I found heart-warming and entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Midnight Palace, June 3, 2011
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
The Midnight Palace is full of adventure, mystery, thrills, and family drama - not only the family you're born to, but the family you choose for yourself. Mr. Zafón brings us into the world of Calcutta in the 1930s. We're treated to an exotic setting, characters who come together to form a greater whole, and whispered magic and sorcery which grows to larger than life proportions. Storytelling is a large part of this book to the characters and it's done so very well. Mr. Zafón is a master storyteller and brings to life the characters and setting. I enjoyed the suspense and learning the truth behind the tale of the twins, Ben and Sheere. The fast-paced nature of The Midnight Palace keeps you reading until late in the night. I thought part of it was a bit easy to figure out, but this is a great YA book and I think it will enthrall readers of all ages.

Niebla series: The Prince of Mist (1), The Midnight Palace (2), Las Luces De Septiembre (3)
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4.0 out of 5 stars I am not a young reader but I would recommend it to the young readers from anywhere, September 14, 2014
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This story held me from the start. I am not a young reader but I would recommend it to the young readers from anywhere. If you like to be terrified then this is it. Blood and guts, ghosts and supernatural elements, this book has it all plus an angle I had not considered; that the British were not always welcome in their paternal benevolence of the countries they deigned to bring into world trade or to modernise. Carlos Ruiz Zafon know how to draw in his readers and his other books bring in perspectives Western readers may well want to investigate.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to write home about. . ., August 11, 2012
This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Paperback)
Like countless Carlos Ruiz Zafón's fans, I can't wait for the author to release the sequel to the incredible The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. The former could well be my favorite novel ever, so you can understand my enthusiasm.

Although I always steer clear from YA material, my curiosity was piqued in such a way that I elected to give Zafón's The Prince of Mist a shot a few weeks back. Surprisingly, I found the novel to be a light yet rewarding read, and thus decided to read The Midnight Palace, a second work by the author translated into English and aimed at the young adult market.

Here's the blurb:

In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery. . .

Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.

While The Prince of Mist could work equally well with the young and the young at heart, I'm afraid that The Midnight Palace is YA through and through. Which means that I was never able to get into the story the way I did with its predecessor. Indeed, The Prince of Mist was a lighter read meant for a younger public, yet one could see the genesis and echoes of a number of storylines that would make Carlos Ruiz Zafón's future novels such wonderful reading experiences.

As is normally the case, the author's evocative prose brings the city of Calcutta to life quite vividly. Few authors can create such an imagery, and even early in his writing career Zafón had a knack for it.

The characterization leaves a lot to be desired, however. I've said it before and I'll say it again. By some unfathomable means, Carlos Ruiz Zafón can, in a paragraph or three, introduce you to an endearing character that echoes with depth. With little room to maoeuver, as this is a relatively short book, I feel that the cast was comprised of too many protagonists for Zafón to work his habitual magic. And without the author's usual superior characterization, The Midnight Palace never truly takes off. Though Ben and Sheere are more well-defined, the rest of the Chowbar Society are never fleshed out in a satisfactory way. A teenager would likely enjoy the book regardless of that flaw, but I simply couldn't get into it.

Overall, Carlos Ruiz Zafón's writing style and tone make for a pleasant narrative. Still, many of the plotlines are more than a little predictable. And even if, true to himself, Zafón has a few unanticipated surprises in store for us, this time it's not nearly enough to make this a memorable read.

A younger public will in all likelihood enjoy The Midnight Palace. But if you want to give Zafón's earlier novels a shot while you wait for his next worldwide bestseller, unless you usually enjoy YA material I'd pass on this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great, June 23, 2014
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This review is from: The Midnight Palace (Hardcover)
have not read yet although he is my favorite author gotta be awesome recommend to all thanks buy it Deb
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The Midnight Palace
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Hardcover - May 31, 2011)
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