February 23, 2011

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Audiobook): Review

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I'm a big fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's writing style. Loved The Angel's Game, adored The Shadow of the Wind. So when I saw The Prince of Mist available as an audiobook from my library, I downloaded it right away. I'm a bit iffy on this one though. I'll get to that in a moment but first here's the run down.

Thirteen year old Max moves to a coastal town with his family during World War II to escape the dangers of living in the city. His Dad is bit of an eccentric watchmaker who fell in love with an abandoned estate during a previous visit. The estate has a sad history since the last owners' son, Jacob, died there. It also has a creepy concrete garden of carnival statues. Max finds this disconcerting especially when the statues appear to be living. When terrifying and unexplainable events happen to himself, his siblings and his new friend Roland, Max pushes deep into the past to find out the circumstances surrounding Jacob's death.

Although there is plenty of creepiness in The Prince of Mist, it lacks Zafon's usual flare for turn of phrase. Perhaps it is because it was written for the younger crowd, but I suspect it's more likely due to being his debut novel. It doesn't have that polish I expect from him. As I said, it's a young adult story with the main characters being teens and most of the adults conveniently missing for the second half of the novel. They have to battle dark and evil forces themselves. The things they encounter are the stuff of childhood nightmares: living statues, evil magicians and creepy clowns. Yep, creepy clowns; they get me every time. I haven't been the same since Poltergeist.

Scarred for life by this guy

The plot skated along at a nice pace until close to the end where it started to unravel. The ending was somewhat disappointing to me. This is kind of a spoiler (highlight): I thought that good should have triumphed over evil. Another issue I had was with the book was how the point of view for most of the time was Max's but very occasionally it was one of the other kids. It was jarring.

The Prince of Mist has a high creep factor but it's also a coming of age story. War hangs over them all. They've all lost something in the move away from the city and they know the longer the war drags on the more they have to lose.

About the audio: Jonathan Davis was an excellent narrator but the audio incorporated music and sound effects into the story. I don't like that.

Recommended.

10 comments :

  1. You know, I still haven't managed to get the library audiobooks to work on my computer... Kind of disappointing!

    I have still also never read this author. I have two books by him on my TBR pile, so really should remedy that one of these days!

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  2. I've had a hit and miss experience with Zafon. I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind enough, but I couldn't finish Angel's Game. This one sounds great in premise, but given your assessment of its faults, I think I'll hold off.

    And that Poltergeist clown scared the stuffing out of me, too.

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  3. I don't like sound effects in my audios either, especially when I'm in the car. I've heard other people say this book was a disappointment.

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  4. I've got this on my shelf but haven't read it yet. I like the cover. I wonder if it's more atmospheric in book form than audio form? I feel sometimes the audio version can really impact a book experience.

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  5. Kelly- That's too bad. Have you watched the tutorial?

    Andi- I do like his other books but this one didn't work for me.

    Kathy- This was the first audiobook with sound effects I've listened to. Not a fan.

    Aarti- It might be that. I read the other 2 books and I have found that audio is a whole different thing.

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  6. Oh hey! I didn't know this was his debut novel. I thought it was new. I'd written it down to check out but I hate being disappointed by an author who's previous work I especially loved. At the same time, I don't have to read everything by an author; I wasn't sure this story would be up my alley.

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  7. Steph- Yeah, there was an interview at the end of it with Zafon. He wrote it in 1993 for a contest (I think it was a contest). He had been writing but never published anything until then. They've just translated it into English- probably because of his recent popularity.

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  8. I loved Shadow of the Wind, but haven't been brave enough to read any of his others, just in case I am disappointed.

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  9. I've had this one checked out a couple of times from the library but always end up bringing it back unread. I decided the last time this happened to set it aside until Carl's RIP Challenge and maybe that will be the right time to read it.

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  10. I didn't dislike this one as much as some people, but I felt the same way as you. It was okay, but lacking - probably because, as you say, it's a YA novel. Great review!

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