THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN returns to the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop.
It begins just before Christmas in Barcelona in 1957, one year after Daniel and Bea from THE SHADOW OF THE WIND have married. They now have a son, Julian, and are living with Daniel's father at Sempere & Sons. Fermin still works with them and is busy preparing for his wedding to Bernarda in the New Year. However something appears to be bothering him.
Daniel is alone in the shop one morning when a mysterious figure with a pronounced limp enters. He spots one of their most precious volumes that is kept locked in a glass cabinet, a beautiful and unique illustrated edition of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. Despite the fact that the stranger seems to care little for books, he wants to buy this expensive edition. Then, to Daniel's surprise, the man inscribes the book with the words 'To Fermin Romero de Torres, who came back from the dead and who holds the key to the future'. This visit leads back to a story of imprisonment, betrayal and the return of a deadly rival ...
Characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game reconvene in Zaf n's newest literary thriller. When a stranger shows up at the struggling Sempere & Sons bookshop in Barcelona in 1957 to buy a rare and expensive volume, Daniel Sempere the son sets out to uncover the mysterious man's motives. The resulting mix of history and mystery drives this third installment in Zaf n's cycle about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a "sprawling labyrinth like the trunk of an endless tree." What Daniel discovers will implicate those he loves, has lost, and loathes from his soon-to-be-wed friend, Ferm n; to Daniel's mother, Isabella, who died under questionable circumstances; his father; his wife, Bea, and infant son, Julian; and a host of schemers, torturers, corrupt governmental officials, writers, and lovers, many of whom have changed identities, hurriedly penned secret missives, and stashed keys to hidden treasures. Zaf n's storytelling is deft and well-paced, and his vivid prose brings the cultural riches and political strife of Franco-era Spain to life. Though the book will undoubtedly please readers familiar with his other novels, as the introduction explains, the book is a "self-contained tale" capable of standing alone something it does with aplomb.
Well worth the wait
As a big fan of Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game I was eagerly awaiting this book. I was not disappointed. It takes the reader back to when Fermin was a prisoner and provides some excellent background on several of the main characters.
Whilst perhaps not in the same 5 star class as the other two books it sets the story up perfectly for sequels and is therefore well worth the read. I can't wait for the next instalment and just love the feeling of 1950s Barcelona that this book oozes.
Great story, beautiful language
I recommend reading this novel. Unrivaled carving of characters by Zafon, and a story with many peaks of surprise, sadness and a few open leads...
This book never really got going for me before it seemed to come to an abrupt end. I loved Shadow and Angel's Game, and there's clearly going to be another to come, but there are loads of unanswered questions that rather than leave me with bated breath for the next instalment, have left me more, like, not really bothered to know what's coming next..... Quite disappointed overall.