Shadow of the Wind author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon launched his writing career in 1992 with a novel for young readers. The Prince of Mist has been translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves and it's a young person's twist to selling one's soul to the devil and reaping the consequences.
Books for young adults
Zafon's first four novels were aimed at young adults and in an attempt to reach readers of all ages - 'storytelling transcends age limitations' - Phoenix Paperbacks have produced this edition. It is basically a young reader's book all the same and, having enjoyed Shadow of the Wind so much, I'd mistakenly bought it as Waterstones displayed it among the latest adult releases. If you don't care for books about magic, ghosts and teenage adventures, then beware that you don't make the same mistake.
It's an easy read that can be read in one sitting and it concerns the adventures of three teenagers. A fourth lands in hospital in a coma quite early on and plays no further part in the story, which made me wonder why she'd been included in the first place other than to get the parents out of the way. While they're at the hospital, 13-year-old Max Carver and his 15-year-old sister Alicia become friends with the lighthousekeeper's grandson, Roland whose gramps has a creepy story to tell. But can they believe him?
The Carvers have moved to the coast where their father reckons they'll be safer as it's 1943. Nothing could be further from the truth as Max begins to have odd dreams and stumbles on a walled garden containing statues of a circus troupe, a sinister stone clown and a star engraving, which pops up in various situations he encounters later on. The lighthousekeeper tells them about Cain, the wicked magician who is seeking his revenge and I couldn't help but think how much more vibrant these passages would have been if they'd been shown actually happening.
An exciting read
I didn't find it scary as other reviewers say they did but then I'm a cynical old bat who spends her working life appraising other people's writing and can't get out of the habit of suggesting areas for improvement. However, it was an exciting read and I didn't have too much trouble whizzing through its pages, even though I haven't been a teenager for a very long time.
You can learn more about Carlos Ruiz Zafon's writing on his website: http://www.carlosruizzafon.co.uk/
His next book in the young readers series, The Midnight Palace will be released on 2 June 2011 and it's set in Calcutta in the 1930s.