The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (Book #3 of 4)
Genre: Historical fiction, Mystery
Pages: 293 pages (US Kindle edition)
Translated Edition Published: 2012 by Weidenfield & Nicholson, Orion Books (UK) & by Harper (US)
Both Daniel Sempere and David Martin already have their respective background told, now it’s time for Fermin Romero de Torres’s past to be revealed.
“One mustn’t dream of one’s future; one must earn it.”
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third—and penultimate—installment in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The story takes place in Barcelona 1957, and it mainly revolves around connecting the plot-threads prepared in The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game; at the same time, bringing new revelations and mysteries through Fermin’s past. It’s stated at the front page of the book that you can begin your journey with the series from whichever installment you choose; I highly disagree with this. I actually have no idea why that was stated, yes, technically you can understand the main story, but it is the nuances and familiarity with the characters established in the previous two books that made this book so damn engrossing. I strongly advise you to read this series in publication order. There were so many moments and scenes in this book that would lose their impact if you haven’t read the previous two books first.
Picture: The Prisoner of Heaven by Vincent Chong
I didn’t expect I would find myself this invested with the characters of the series, but the characters, at this stage of the series, have truly come alive for me. Daniel Sempere, David Martin, Julian Carax, Fermin, and many more side characters are fully fleshed-out characters with distinctive personalities and voices. In The Shadow of the Wind, we have known that Fermin—one of the character that made the first book astonishingly good—had a damaged and harrowing past that was never conveyed to the readers; it is here we finally get to see the revelations of his dark past and how the story of the Sempere family, David Martin, and Fermin connects with each other. Daniel and Fermin’s friendship, which was one of the main highlights of the first book, returns in its full force and more due to the truth behind Fermin’s background, and I loved reading every page of this book.
“I’ve always thought that anyone who needs to join a herd so badly must be a bit of a sheep himself.”
I’ve mentioned that The Shadow of the Wind has a melancholic mood to the narrative, and The Angel’s Game retained a bleak and depressing tone throughout its story. The Prisoner of Heaven felt like the calm before the storm. The story and characterizations are spot-on, and the pacing was engrossing. Additionally, the low page count of the book made me finish reading it in one day. There’s no denying that this was very unputdownable, but I honestly would’ve preferred this installment to be longer. One of the great things about the previous two books was how Zafon’s quality of narrative tightened with more pages read; there were contemplations, philosophical discussions, mysteries, relationships building, and the fiery passion for books. All of these, unfortunately, felt shortened or even missing due to the low page count.
“The world’s very small when you don’t have anywhere to go.”
In a way, The Prisoner of Heaven felt like an impactful interlude that functions as a convergence of plotlines prior to proceeding towards the final installment of the series. Gripping, incredibly well-written (and translated) as always; my experience with this series so far already made me want to shout continuously that this is one of my favorite non-SFF series of all time, but I don’t want to jinx it now; I shall leave that bold claim until I’m done reading the entire series. The stages for the grand and twisted conclusion have been set, let’s find out whether The Labyrinth of the Spirits will be able to conclude this quartet satisfyingly or not.
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