Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #3
Published by HarperCollins on July 2012 (first published 2011)
Genres: Historical fiction, Mystery
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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 Fermín 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 Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940's and the dark early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance, and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love and ultimately transform their lives. [Goodreads]
I was really looking forward to this book ever since I heard of its release date (June 21st, 2012). Sadly, I had some trouble acquiring the actual book (don’t ask) and thus I didn’t start reading until the last day of August. Coincidentally, Mr. Zafón was due to have an interview and a signing session just two days later at the Dutch book event Manuscripta. I didn’t finish the book on time, but I figured I’d combine a review of The Prisoner of Heaven with a short report on Záfon’s presence at Manuscripta.
I wasn’t expecting anything but another masterpiece. I really enjoyed the first two books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game and I think this new addition to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is equally enjoyable. The Prisoner of Heaven revolves around Fermín Romero de Torres (who already appeared in The Shadow of the Wind) and tells us some of his history in light of his upcoming wedding.
I know it is said these books can be read as seperate entities, but I disagree with that. Although the books play at different times, reading them in the correct order is really beneficial. Actually, after finishing The Prisoner of Heaven I want to re-read the first two books because clearly some details have slipped my mind. I read The Shadow of the Wind, which was published in English in 2004, in 2007 and The Angel’s Game directly when it was published in 2008. I love how the stories in the three books are intertwined, not even in the most obvious way but more subtly, but I definitely need to refresh my memory and I’m sure The Prisoner of Heaven will be even more enjoyable when I do so.
As said before, Zafón appeared at the Dutch book event Manuscripta. Sunday, September 2nd, was dubbed ‘Zafónday’ (Zafóndag) with an interview and an hour long signing session (2×30 minutes in different locations). The Dutch translation of Zafón’s book is heavily promoted in the Netherlands all over the place, from book shops to train stations.
The interview with Zafón was conducted by Dutch author Guus Bauer (I have never read any of his works). It was a pleasant interview where they talked a bit about the new book and the series it’s part of. I clearly wasn’t the only one who noticed the difference in pace between the different books. Shadow of the Wind was a fairly comfortable read, whereas The Angel’s Game was somewhat heavier and slower, and in comparison The Prisoner of Heaven is a really quick read. Zafón mentioned during the interview he was trying to add a bit of different genres into the different books. To be honest, I did not notice this as strongly myself, although The Angel’s Game does stand out among the other two books.
Zafón confirmed that the series revolving around the Cemetery of Forgotten Books will indeed have no more or less than four volumes, so we only have to wait for the last volume. Moreover, there will almost definitely be no movie(s) produced based on the books despite multiple offers. As Zafón explained, he worked as a screenwriter at some point himself and that has influenced his decision on a possible movie.
Zafón’s short prequel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is available as a free e-book on Amazon (can also be read with the free Kindle app for computer/smartphone/tablet). It also contains a preview for The Prisoner of Heaven.