Friday, July 27, 2012

The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

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 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 dangerous adventures 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.

There are certain authors I always hear about.  Everyone I know seems to love their writing, rave about the characters they create, and worship the creative mind behind it all.  For whatever reason, those are the authors I tend to stay away from, at least for a little bit.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe it's that part of me that insists I can't like something, if everyone else does.  Everyone who knows me, personally, teases me about it.  I don't see it that way.  I see it as having different tastes than everyone else.  So when I kept on hearing how great Carlos Ruiz Zafon is, I found myself not paying a ton of attention.

His first book, The Shadow of the Wind, sounded like something I might like.  But I wasn't in a big hurry to find out.  I figured I would let the dust settle for a while, then find out for myself if this was something worth reading.  Then when the second book, The Angel's Game, I put both of them out of contention for my attention.  Now if I had been offered a chance to review either one of those books, I may have been more inclined to find out what everyone else was talking about.  That's how I ended up reading his third book, The Prisoner of Heaven.  I was willing to give it a go, if I didn't have to put much effort into getting my hands on it.
     
I'm going to admit that even after I got the book in the mail, I wasn't feeling that burning desire to open it.  I actually had to force myself to sit down and start reading.  And while I'm being honest here, I have something else I need to admit.  For most of the book, I really didn't get what everyone else was talking about.  I wasn't seeing the second coming of (insert your favorite author).  That doesn't mean I wasn't liking what I was reading, I just wasn't getting the hype.  It was okay, but it wasn't rising to the level I was expecting after all the glowing reviews I read after the first two books came out.  I really enjoyed getting to know Daniel and Fermin, who by the way is a great character.  I was drawn into the story and even found myself wanting to know what happened next.  Even after all that, I wasn't in a huge hurry to read the two previous books.  While I may have liked Daniel and Fermin, I wasn't chomping at the bit to read any more.
   
Then right around the last 30 pages, my internal attitude started to change.  I found myself buying into the Kool-Aid a bit more.  I was starting to understand what everyone else was talking about.  I began to appreciate the subtleties of the author's style and world building.  I'm not at the same level everyone else I know is at, but I'm now at the point where I want to read the first two books.  I want to, for myself, discover what everyone else is raving about.  After reading Prisoner of Heaven, I'm now convinced that I have some great reading ahead of me.
   
I would like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read/review this book.  Please visit the tour page to read other reviews.

11 comments:

Michael @ Literary Exploration said...

I can't wait to read this book, but I need to read The Angel's Game first, which I put off for far too long

Blodeuedd said...

I so wanna read this one, I love his language

bermudaonion said...

The Shadow of the Wind is one of my sister's all time favorite books. I tried a YA book by the author that I didn't really care for. I'm anxious to try this one.

Lauren said...

Obviously I haven't spent a lot of time in the new fiction section because I'd never heard of Carlos Ruiz Zafon before this review. However, the premise sounds interesting and I really love the cover design.

Marce said...

Your buying into the Kool Aide, love that statement.

I haven't read any of the books either, but have Shadow of the Wind, waiting patiently for me to try it. Recently due to this book coming out I have started considering it more.

Tasha B. said...

The last 30 pages, eh? Mmm, I think I'll just keep Zafon on my "someday" list for now.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hype usually turns me off a book too. However, I have been wanting to read Carlos Zafon and haven't yet. Between you and Stephanie, I think both have pushed me over to getting his books and reading them. Just need the time now. :)

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I'm very much like you in that I tend (intentionally or otherwise) to dislike the "in" thing, but at the same time you and I tend to like a lot of the same books. I think I'd be drinking the Zafon Kool-Aid once I start reading his books ...

Thanks for being on the tour Ryan!

StephanieD said...

Finally, I can come over here and comment as I just finished writing my review! I totally get where you're coming from and as I stated in my post (to be published tomorrow), if I had read Prisoner first, I would not have fallen in love either. But it did illuminate some mysteries from the first 2 books, while bringing up new ones, so for that I did enjoy Prisoner. The second half was much better than the first.

Please, please read Shadow - you'll love it!!!

Man of la Book said...

While this is certainly a stand alone book, I think that the enjoyment factor would have been multiplied if the first two books are read.

My thoughts are here: http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=5352 I'm glad you liked this book and am looking forward to read what you thought about the other two.

Staci said...

I loved the Kool-aid blip...i'm a bit like you with certain books that everyone is gushing over. But I read Matt's review of book one and bought it. Still haven't read it but it's waiting for me!!