Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Prince of Mist

Nicholas Tucker reviews Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Prince of Mist.
Author of The Shadow of the Wind, the most-read Spanish novel since Don Quixote, Carlos Ruiz Zafón began his writing career eight years before with the first of four stories aimed at teenage readers. The opening volume, The Prince of Mist, now appears in an English edition, fluently translated by Lucia Graves, with the others following in the next three years. It won the prestigious Edebé Prize for Young Adult Fiction on publication in 1993, and with its companion novels has sold over three million copies. So does this first effort promise to be yet another sensation outside Spain along with Zafón's The Angel's Game, which is currently selling in shed-loads all over Europe?
Rambling Gothic novels whose sub-plots contain yet more sub-plots take up a lot of paper, but in these early days Zafón too often rushes his literary fences in his effort to convey as much terror as possible in a cramped space. Writing for a younger audience has also led him into providing various over-anxious explanations as the plot develops, which negate any gradual build-up of tension against a background made even more fearful precisely because nothing within it ever seems totally clear. Even so, the main story remains gripping enough, revolving around such hardy perennials as a haunted house on the coast and the discovery of old home movies that indicate the evil that had happened before and is now in the process of happening again.
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