The Prisoner of Heaven

The Prisoner of Heaven

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books returns with the chilling instalment The Prisoner of Heaven. Daniel Sempere and his best friend Fermìn Romero de Torres receive an unwelcome visitor at the Sempere & Sons bookshop who leaves a threatening note for Fermìn. Daniel senses that something is not quite right with his friend and pushes Fermìn for the truth about his past and in particular about his time spent in Montjuïc prison. What Daniel doesn’t realise is that the truth will affect his life just as much as Fermìn’s.


Although The Prisoner of Heaven is part of a series, it is certainly not inaccessible for someone who hasn’t read The Angel’s Game or The Shadow of the Wind. In fact, it was Zafón’s intention to have an interchangeable order for the series. It had been a long time since I’d read the other two books in the series, yet The Prisoner of Heaven was still very much enjoyable.


Zafón’s unique way of creating fearsome and chilling tales is key to the novel and is what keeps me reading. Instead of going for all out gore, Zafón examines a darker nature to all of his characters in the rather grim setting of Barcelona in the middle of the twentieth century. Some aspects of the novel, particularly about Fermìn’s time in Montjuïc prison, are a little gruesome, but Zafón’s use of the chill setting and a darker side to human nature are far more disturbing and what makes the novel a great read.


My one concern with this novel is the lack of a resolution at the end. Some of the characters faded into the background and I felt that Zafón rushed to his conclusion without considering all of the characters he’d introduced. Perhaps, although The Prisoner of Heaven is readable without a good knowledge of the other books, without that knowledge you can only scratch the surface of the characters and the story, which contributes to the sense that things are left unfinished at the end.


Having said that, reading The Prisoner of Heaven has encouraged me to go back and read Zafón’s other novels in preparation for the series’ much anticipated conclusive novel. Perhaps things will become clearer then. I would definitely recommend The Prisoner of Heaven and Zafón as a writer, but bear in mind that it might be best to read The Shadow of the Wing and The Angel’s Game alongside The Prisoner of Heaven if you want the fuller picture.

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