Title: The Prince of Mist
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Release Date: May 4, 2010
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Teen/YA, Mystery
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
When Max’s family tells him they’ll be leaving their home because of World War II, he is devastated. His family moves into an empty house on the coast, and to Max’s surprise, he almost immediately befriends a local boy named Roland. It doesn’t take Max long to realize that the house his family is living in has secrets and he resolves to figure out what is going on around him.
I was a huge fan of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, so when I heard that Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s first novels were finally going to be published in the US, I was thrilled. I looked forward to the first one with anticipation, and was very excited when my book club chose it as our “spooky” read for the year.
The Prince of Mist is definitely a creepy book. It’s not really scary, it’s more unsettling. There’s clearly more going on than meets the eye in this novel, and the fact that we don’t really understand its mechanisms makes it spooky. There’s a haunting quality to this entire book, an atmosphere of loss and despair. Even when Max is happy, it’s clear that something is coming, something that is too large for him to control or escape. It’s easy to understand why Max feels like he must know what is going on, because it’s his only power against whatever is out there.
The writing in The Prince of Mist is melodic, but it’s not nearly as lush as Zafon’s prose in his adult books. While a bit disappointing, this makes sense. Zafon’s writing is very complex, and it’s natural that he would simplify it for a book whose main audience is supposed to be teenagers. I was thrilled to see he worked with Lucia Graves for the translation; she did both of his previous novels and they seem to work together incredibly well, as the final product is always excellent.
Zafon has another of his early YA novels releasing in the next year, and I’m looking forward to it. This book wasn’t earth shatteringly good, but it was entertaining. It was short and easy to read, which appealed to me. As long as you don’t go in expecting another The Shadow of the Wind and let this novel speak to you on its own merits, you’ll likely enjoy it for what it is – a simple ghost story.