“I opened the book and looked for the page with the inscription the stranger had written out.
For Fermín Romero de Torres,
who came back from among the dead
and holds the key to the future.
Then I heard the tinkle of the doorbell and when I looked up, the stranger was gone.
I dashed over to the door and peered out into the street. The visitor was limping away, merging with the silhouettes that moved through the veil of blue mist sweeping up Calle Santa Ana. I was about to call him, but I bit my tongue. The easiest thing would have been to let him go and have done with it, but my instinct and characteristic lack of prudence got the better of me.
This book is the third of what will be four novels that make up The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. They are beautifully written and expertly crafted in a way that they all relate to the same story, but can be read separately and in any order. Each book adds shocking details and perspectives to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books world.
In The Prisoner of Heaven, we rejoin our favorite characters shortly after The Shadow of the Wind ends. All seems to be going well for Daniel, who is married to Bea and has a baby boy Julián; and his friend Fermín, whose own wedding is rapidly approaching. However, everything changes when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere & Sons bookshop and threatens Fermín with secrets of the past.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón sends us spinning into Barcelona’s dark past under Franco’s dictatorship. There we, along with Daniel, learn terrible secrets about Fermín that change everything and expose Daniel to a new danger. But nothing is more dangerous than the truth, and instead of setting Daniel free, it will both terrify and incite him. Along the way, we learn more about Daniel’s mother, Isabella; and the struggling writer, David Martín; who both appeared in The Angel’s Game.
It seems that Daniel, Fermín, Isabella, and David are all connected in more ways than we realize, and their individual tragedies intertwine to form a complex and heartbreaking story. As usual, Carlos Ruiz Zafón amazes us with his enchanting narrative and storytelling abilities. If you are a fan of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game then I promise that you won’t be disappointed, but be prepared to be left stunned and breathless after everything is revealed in this book. I’m truly astounded by how masterfully Zafón created this universe full of details that completely change the overall meaning when put together. This book actually improved my opinion of The Angel’s Game and helped me to understand it better, as it offered an outsider’s perspective on David Martín and his delusions, which were often confusing. Furthermore, The Prisoner of Heaven gives us more insight into Fermín’s dark past, whereas The Shadow of the Wind skips most of his history and uses him primarily for comic relief.
That being said, The Prisoner of Heaven is noticeably slimmer than Zafón’s previous two novels. It lacks some of the development and romance found in The Shadow of the Wind, but more than makes up for it in plot. Also, as much as I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, this newly released hardcover edition is gorgeous. The picture I included really doesn’t do it justice. The artwork alone could have convinced me to purchase this book.
Overall, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is developing fantastically, but the fourth and final book cannot come quickly enough. The Prisoner of Heaven will leave you with many questions dying to be answered. Until the fourth book is released, I will have to settle and return to Zafón’s world by rereading The Shadow of the Wind (again) and The Angel’s Game. I’m excited to use this new knowledge given by The Prisoner of Heaven to find subtleties of the plot hidden in the previous two books.
Check out Carlos Ruiz Zafón‘s official site for many really interesting features, including music composed specifically for each book.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Published July 10, 2012
Translated from Spanish