qatsi (qatsi) wrote,
qatsi
qatsi

Book Review: The Prisoner of Heaven, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, but a helpful note at the beginning explains that each volume stands on its own as a story and can be read out of sequence. Although I've read them in the order of publication (which is not the chronological order of events), it's been several years in between each one, so I am almost starting from fresh each time.

I really enjoyed this, much more so than its predecessor The Angel's Game, which was rather overwrought with conspiracies. The "contemporary" strand of the book takes place in late 1950s Barcelona in and around the Sempere and Sons bookshop, although a substantial part is a flashback to their employee Fermí Romero de Torres' imprisonment in a period just after the end of the Spanish Civil War, around 1940-41. Without giving too much away in spoilers, there is a theme of identity - lost, reclaimed, discarded, problematic. There's a lot of mutual ambivalence, of just getting on with things and knowing when not to ask questions. No doubt those who are better read than I will enjoy literary references and allusions that passed me by. It's a slimmer and more straightforward volume than the previous two books but it's also plain that the story is not over - there is clearly some further setting up of the story arc, as well as some loose ends (I have some speculation about the identity of the caller to the bookshop in the opening chapters, though I will be more surprised if it turns out to be right than wrong). Once again, I certainly find that having visited Barcelona - and in this case, Montjuïc Castle in particular - helps considerably in understanding the book.
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