The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: May book of the month
Back in 2005, there was one novel that seemed to appear on every beach, bedside table and bookshelf across the land. The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón was an extraordinary global phenomenon, an international hit that sold 1.5 million copies in the UK. Our May Book of the Month, The Prisoner of Heaven, is the sequel.
The book opens with the familiar dark magic of old Barcelona, in the Sempere & Sons Bookshop, where Daniel is now married with a child, and Fermin Romero de Torres is preparing for his own marriage to Bernada.
But when a stranger leaves Fermin a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo with a strange inscription, his dark past looks set to return. The rest of the book unlocks the mystery of Fermin's imprisonment in the notorious Montjuic prison during the 1930s, and his fellow inmate David Martin, a writer whose storytelling and schizophrenic episodes have given him the nickname Prisoner of Heaven.
Cleverly plotted, and mixing genre traditions with post-modern literary references, the novel combines good old-fashioned mystery with a strong message: that books are our salvation, and we must never lose sight of what they teach us, and what is lost when they are lost.
Zafón's style is exuberant and lively, revelling in sub-plots and enigmas and the Gothic splendour of it all. There are links back and forth to the other two novels in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle, but Zafón has emphatically stated that each also stands alone, and can be read in any order. Whether you are already a Zafón-ophile or this is your first encounter, it is easy to become fully immersed in the rollicking adventure.
About Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the international bestsellers The Shadow of The Wind and The Angel's Game. His work has been published in more than 40 different languages and honoured with numerous international awards. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.
You can find information about all Zafon's books on his website. Plus the book itself has a dedicated section of historical background, reading group notes and author interviews.
Book club discussion: Tuesday 4 June, 9-10pm
We are thrilled that Carlos will be answering questions about The Prisoner of Heaven, his cycle of novels and his writing career. So please feel free to discuss the book throughout the month, pop up your questions about this book or any of the others, and then chat to Carlos live on Tuesday 4 June, 9-10pm. Hope you can join us.