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The Prisoner of Heaven: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 10, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 413 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[A novel] with the blissful narrative drive of a high-class mystery… Ruiz Zafón is a splendidly solicitous craftsman, careful to give the reader at least as much pleasure as he is evidently having.” (The Guardian)

“The story has heart, menace torture, kindness, cruelty, sacrifice, and a deep devotion to what makes humans tick.” (New York Journal of Books)

“Perhaps his wittiest [novel] and the darkest to date, a stylistic feat that Ruiz Zafon handles deftly…Savor this book.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“Gripping…suspenseful…The magic of the novel is in the wonderfully constructed creepy and otherworldly setting, the likable characters, and the near-perfect dialogue.” (Booklist)

“Invoking the atmosphere of Dumas, Dickens, Poe and Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruiz Zafon retains his originality and will hold his rightful place among the storytelling masters of literature.” (Book Reporter)

“Zafon’s storytelling is deft and well-paced, and his vivid prose brings the cultural riches and political strife of Franco-era Spain to life.” (Publishers Weekly)

“There is an air of magical realism to Zafón’s tales. The prose is robust and the dialogue rich with smart irony. But mostly, reading Zafón is great fun.” (Miami Herald)

“A deep and mysterious novel full of people that feel real…This is an enthralling read and a must-have for your library. Zafón focusses on the emotion of the reader and doesn’t let go.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)

From the Back Cover

The internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Carlos Ruiz Zafon takes us into a dark, gothic Barcelona and creates a rich, labyrinthine tale of love, literature, passion, and revenge in which the heroes of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game must contend with a nemesis that threatens to destroy them.

Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermin Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past. His appearance plunges Fermin and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives.

Full of intrigue and emotion, The Prisoner of Heaven is a majestic novel in which the threads of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game converge under the spell of literature and bring us toward the enigma hidden at the heart of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a collection of lost treasures known only to its few initiates, and the very core of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's enchanting fictional world.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062206281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062206282
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (413 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Richards on August 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I suspect my review will be unpopular here on Amazon, so let me start my review by stating that I have read both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game multiple times, and love them both. Perhaps because I enjoyed the previous two novels so much, I found Zafon's effort in The Prisoner of Heaven utterly disappointing.

Zafon always stated that he intended the novels commencing with The Shadow of the Wind to be stand-alone works, interconnected by various characters and, most importantly, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Thus, a reader could start with any one of the novels and jump into an intriguing mystery story -- chronology is not important. Zafon previously stated the following:

"I never meant to write a sequential saga, or a series of sequels of sorts. The idea is to write stories around this literary universe centered around the cemetery of forgotten books, exploring this gothic, mysterious universe through different characters and storylines. As you say, perhaps it would have been more commercialy advisable to do that, to write a straight sequel and pick up the story where we left it, but it was never my idea to do so and I think it is more interesting to play around with the narrative spaces and lines to pull the reader into a fictional universe that plays by its own rules."

Zafon has, apparently, now scrapped this idea. Where the first two novels are marvelous mysteries in their own right (who is Julian Carax; who is the "boss"?) -- The Prisoner of Heaven is merely filler, nothing more than an explanation of elements of the first two novels and a set-up for the final novel.
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Format: Hardcover
And here's the awesome thing... Within mere pages I was immersed in Ruiz Zafón's Barcelona. I love authors whose use of language is as idiosyncratic as a fingerprint, and Ruiz Zafón is one. I'd recognize his style immediately, whether his name was on the cover or not. He has stated in the past that the four books that make up this tetralogy can be read in any order, and that was true enough for the first two books, but not, perhaps, for this one. Here's why:

Bookseller and bibliophile Daniel Sempere was at the heart of The Shadow of the Wind. And while there was plenty of intriguing overlap, The Angel's Game told the story of writer David Martín in an earlier timeline. The Prisoner of Heaven is the perfect bridge between these two books. It's told in two different times, and it picks up on the stories of both Daniel and David after the ends of their prior novels. And while there are many, many connections between these two men, the one at the heart of this novel is Daniel's best friend and bookstore employee, Fermín Romero de Torres.

In the present day of the novel (1958), a visit to Sempere & Sons by a disquieting stranger who leaves a gift for Fermín is the catalyst for the older man to at last come clean about his past. Flashing back to 1939, Fermín tells Daniel about his imprisonment during the war. That was where Fermín met David Martín, and the man had a significant impact on his life. There's more to the tale, of course, but that's all I'm telling you.

If this novel has a flaw, it's that it's a super-quick read. And it's just so completely enjoyable that it will leave you aching for book four. As for this book, aside from its shortness, it is notably less complex than the prior offerings.
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Format: Hardcover
At once a sequel to The Angel's Game and both a sequel and prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, The Prisoner of Heaven continues to tie together the twisting and melancholy narratives of David Martín and Daniel Sempere. This time, Zafón uses the unlikeliest of sources to accomplish this intertwining of narratives: at the heart of The Prisoner of Heaven, though not the titular prisoner itself, is Fermín Romero de Torres, and his story, from his first steps through the gates at Castle Montjuïc, to his eventual meeting with Daniel Sempere, is surprisingly heartbreaking and and important to the overall narrative of the series' overall story.

In The Shadow of the Wind, Fermín's role as sidekick often fell into the role of comedic relief, allowing Zafón to break the tension with a well-timed joke about flatulence or an off-beat observation about the world, or those who people it. His place in the novel is important for helping to maintain tone, and showcasing Zafón's sly humour, but the reader always had the sense the Fermím's past held secrets as dark and interesting as anyone else in the novel. The Prisoner of Heaven explores some of those secrets, but not all. In response to Fermín's upcoming nuptiuals, Daniel sets out to ensure that his friend can be legally wed under his nom de plume, Fermín Romero de Torres, and in doing so discovers secrets about his own past and his connection with David Martín, lightly touched upon in The Angel's Game. It's a thrilling ride for anyone who has closely followed the labyrinth of relationships that Zafón has woven through his novels.
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