Lost in Translation #4 - The Prince Of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Hello everyone !

Lost in Translation is a meme, hosted here, organised to appeal to the curious international reader in you to discover foreign authors and even encourage you to read some books in their original language ! How exciting ! Wouhou !

For a presentation of the meme, you can go here or email me here (I love receiving emails!)

The meme has a few tiny rules:
- Check if the book is translated in English and available (country and online/bookstores) and specify it in your post
- It would be nice to follow the "Language Corner" where you say to which level the book is suitable for people who might want to read the book in its original language
- And finally: Enjoy and Spread the love ! 

So today I am going to break my own rule of French and Italian author to write a review about Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón and his debut YA novel The Prince of Mist that has just been translated in English.

I discovered Carlos Ruiz Zafón a few summers ago when my mom told me to read this book. You have to know that my mom is an avid reader like me and that my parents have a bookshop/news-stand in France. Now before you start getting all jealous, there is an incredibly annoying thing: we don't read the same books at all. She just can't read anything remotely linked to Fantasy and Science Fiction (you understand now why I couldn't live under the same roof and had to exile myself to another country) and I find mystery novels and Douglas Kennedy a bit so so. 

So when she told me during a summer "you should definitely read The Shadow of the Wind", I was like "Meh, I can't, the new Harry Potter is coming out, I need to say no to social life and read it ten times". Good for me I didn't listen to myself and actually read the book (after reading Harry Potter ten times, that goes without saying).  The Shadow of The Wind is as much a great fiction book as an ode to people who like books and reading.

Anyways, all this boring and useless story to say that when I saw that one of his YA books was being translated in English (it was published in 1993 in Spain), I was just really really excited!!!

The Prince of Mist
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Summary from Amazon:
Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an old house that once belonged to a prestigious surgeon, Dr Richard Fleischmann. But the house holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind it is an overgrown garden full of statues surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. When he goes to investigate, Max finds that the statues seem to consist of a kind of circus troop with the large statue of a clown at its centre. Max has the curious sensation that the statue is beckoning to him. As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: they discover a box of old films belonging to the Fleischmanns; his sister has disturbing dreams and his other sister hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. They also discover the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach. During the dive, Max sees something that leaves him cold - on the old mast floats a tattered flag with the symbol of the six-pointed star. As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of the Prince of the Mists begins to emerge.

I can't even begin to tell you how much I loved this book!!

Everything I loved from The Shadow of The Wind is there, with a paranormal young adult spin (aka *perfection*). I loved following Max and his sister Alicia through this adventure. The characters are very well described and they feel so real with their tiny flaws and habits that it is a real pleasure to read. This book has the atmosphere of old gothic/horror novels where the characters are in a pretty regular setting and then something unexpected, dark and frightening happens which turns the situation upside down.

Reading this story has made me think about how fortunate we are today in Europe, USA and other countries not to have a war going on inside our frontiers. Of course many of our troups may be waging war/bringing peace in parts of the world, but we don't really know what a civil war is anymore. In this book, the setting is Second World War Spain. The country had been living a very brutal Civil War from 1936 and when WWII broke out, Spain aligned itself with Germany at first but progressively adopted a neutral stance. When the story of Max Carver starts in 1943, Spain doesn't take part in the Second World War but is a dictature with a very strong repression which will only end in 1975. You can read The Shadow of The Wind if you want to have an idea on how much the Franco regime has scarred the Spanish psyche. 

Sorry, I got a little carried away here! Anyways, I *love* reading a good fiction where I learn something about history or another culture (which sort of the aim of this meme) and here I loved looking at this family obliged to move cities to avoid the war. The story is told from a third person point of view, and I liked how it seemed to give more insight to the characters' personalities. The themes of growing up are very well treated in the book, and I loved the romance which builds up between Alicia and Roland.

I have to admit that the absence of both parents from a large part of the book is what I would call quite a convenient plot development but which doesn't kill the whole story either. The universe created by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is so rich, and yet not completely overwhelming, that any weakness is instantly forgotten.

I am fervently hoping that his three other Young Adult novels will get translated soon!!

This is book is such a quick enjoyable story that it is the perfect summer read. I would advise it to anyone going to the beach this summer (since part of the book takes place on a beach during the summer). You probably won't look at those seemingly harmless shadows lurking under your feet in the water the same way. 
Just saying ;-)

Language corner:
Since the book is aimed at young adults, the language used is quite simple. I am estimating that an intermediate/upper-intermediate level would be enough to read the book.

Where to find the book:
UK: Waterstones, Amazon
USA: Barnes and Nobles, Amazon

Thanks so much to Jo from Ink and Paper and Once Upon a Bookcase for giving me a copy of this book!!!

To take part in the meme :
- Write your name
- The name of your blog
- In parenthesis if it is the first, second time or more you participate
- In parenthesis which language it is
- Link to the LiT post, not your blog !

Exemple: Caroline @ Portrait of a Woman (4, Spanish)

If what you post doesn't look like that, I will retaliate. Live in fear.


  1. The Prince of Mist sounds like a book I would adore! Both books sound like ones I would like to pick up. Perfect books to lounge around and read in the summer!

  2. Sounds interesting...I will read more about it!

    PS: Still looking for something to read that will work for this meme... ;)

  3. I absolutely love Carlos Ruiz Zafon, you should all definitely check it out!!!

  4. Okay you've just made me want to drop everything and read this. Oh man, *perfection?!*. Wow! This is vey exciting. I have to wait a while though. I do not want to confess how out of control my review copy situation is. I will say that it is very *bad*.

  5. I loved The Shadow of the Wind, too. (The Angel Game not as much - either I was distracted while reading it, or some questions were left unanswered).

    I've been wanting to read Marina for a while - the waiting list at the library is some miles long, lol.