The Prince of Mist
Written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
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The Lovereading4Kids comment
Utterly gripping, this is a deliciously haunting and chilling tale of dark magic and treachery which reaches out across time threatening all who cross its path.
A move to a house by the sea is designed to give Max and his sisters a safe home away from the dangers of the city in wartime. Although their new home comes with a tragic story of a young boy’s death, the family assume all sadness will have died with him. But, gradually, Max begins to uncover the secrets behind that death and in doing so, to find himself confronting the devilry of it head on. The superficial delights of the new seaside home and the friendships it brings are soon engulfed in a desperate and thrilling struggle for survival.
The Good Book Guide Review. This gothic fairy tale full of myths and legends is a wonderful escapist adventure by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, whose novel Shadow of the Wind is the most read Spanish novel since Don Quixote. Young Max Carver and his sister Alicia have recently moved to an old house by the sea that they soon realise holds a world of secrets, stories and magic. As they explore in the gardens and the sea beyond, they start to learn more about the mystery and horror surrounding the house and who the evil Prince of Mist really is. Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a master of the well-crafted tale, and he surpasses himself here in this tale of a summer in which the two young heroes ‘discovered magic together’.
~ Caroline White
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an old house that once belonged to a prestigious surgeon, Dr Richard Fleischmann. But the house holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind it is an overgrown garden full of statues surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. When he goes to investigate, Max finds that the statues seem to consist of a kind of circus troop with the large statue of a clown at its centre. Max has the curious sensation that the statue is beckoning to him. As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: they discover a box of old films belonging to the Fleischmanns; his sister has disturbing dreams and his other sister hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. They also discover the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach. During the dive, Max sees something that leaves him cold - on the old mast floats a tattered flag with the symbol of the six-pointed star. As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of the Prince of the Mists begins to emerge.
Review of ‘Prince of Mist’ by Books for Keeps [3 stars]
A plot which sees a family move house and then discover that their new abode harbours secrets which have to be gradually unravelled has long been a popular one in children’s fiction. Carlos Ruiz Zafón employs it once again in The Prince of Mist, in which ‘an eccentric watchmaker and inventor of dazzling if completely impractical devices’ of a father, Maximilian Carver, decides to take his wife and three children away from their city home and move to the coast. (The precise locations are never made totally clear, though it is perhaps fair to assume that the country concerned is Spain.) It is 1943 and much of the action of the novel takes place ‘under the shadows of a war being fought so close and yet so far from that beach, a faceless war…’ The occasional reminders of these far-off battles provide an interesting backcloth for the sequence of events, observed principally through the eyes of 13-year-old Max Carver. They are set in action as soon as the boy discovers that behind their new house is a decaying garden filled with stone statuary and protected by a metal fence topped with ‘a six-pointed star within a circle’. The significance of this eerie domain will become clear once young Max is befriended by a local boy, Roland, who introduces him to the past history of the Carvers’ new home and, in the process, involves both of them in a narrative which draws on various traditional myths and legends, including the Faust story and The Flying Dutchman. Published originally to great acclaim in Spain in 1993 and here given an atmospheric and, where appropriate, lyrical translation by Lucia Graves, The Prince of Mist injects some quite chilling and supernatural elements – and some more than chilling sinister characters – into a gripping and attractively paced adventure story, even if at times the details of the plotting are not totally convincing.
About the Author
Interest Age: From 12
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
More books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Orion Children's Books, an imprint of Orion Publishing Co
7th July 2011
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