Top positive review
45 people found this helpful
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".