The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Prince of Mist

I do love Zafon’s books, so I was intrigued to see he had also written some young adult books, of which this is one. There are some wonderfully imaginative details in this book, although it is quite dark, surprisingly dark at times. And there seem to be some nice links to his later adult books (or maybe I’m desperate to see links to them!).

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon available on Amazon
 Kindle  Hardback
 Paperback  Audiobook

I do love Zafon’s books, so I was intrigued to see he had also written some young adult books, of which this is one.  There are some wonderfully imaginative details in this book, although it is quite dark, surprisingly dark at times. And there seem to be some nice links to his later adult books (or maybe I’m desperate to see links to them!).

It is set in 1943, during the Second World War (I wasn’t absolutely sure which country it was set in, but presumed it was Spain). There are some wonderfully sinister bits right from the start, such as the clock at the station that moves backwards, and the cat at the station that seems to have been waiting for them. There is also an overgrown garden with statues of fairground figures near the house that Max and his family move to, and then the clown (it had to be a clown, of course, so potentially sinister!) in the centre of the statues moves his hand from a clenched fist to an outstretched palm!! There is also a six-pointed star at the entrance to the garden and the statues are laid out in that design (which reminds me of the Star of David from Angel’s Game). The family that lived in the house before Max had a boy called Jacob Fleischmann, born in 1925 and drowned in 1932. 

Max meets Roland, who shows him around the town. Roland is an orphan as his parents died in a car crash, he lives with his adopted grandfather, Victor, in a lighthouse, though Roland mostly lives in a cabin on the beach mainland.  He is aged about 18 (so I’m thinking he was presumably born about 1925 and would probably have known Jacob and the circumstances of his death?). Roland’s grandfather is the only survivor of a shipwreck that occurred on that coastline and Roland takes Max to see this sunken wreck, the rest of those onboard the ship were a circus troupe (oooh, the statues in the garden?!), none of which survived but none of their bodies were ever found, and the flag on the ship is the six-pointed star from the statue graveyard. 

Irina, Max’s sister, hears voices in her bedroom, and the key in her wardrobe door turns revealing her cat inside but with someone else’s eyes there. She runs away and falls down the stairs and is in a coma. 

Victor tells the children a story about a mysterious man called Cain, known as The Prince of Mist, who came to children in his neighbourhood and promised them anything they wished if they gave him loyalty in return and did something he wanted, and they were killed if they didn’t agree, Victor says his childhood friend was turned into a block of ice. Victor then saw Cain again as a fortune teller/magician on a pier in the town his family moved to, and Cain also appeared as a clown (Cain reminds me of Corelli in Angel’s Game, with his eyes seeming to change colour and him not blinking, and him granting wishes like Corelli granted all David’s wishes). Victor says his friend Fleischmann asked a wish of Cain and this was that he marries Eva, who both he and Victor loved, but the promise that Cain extracted from Fleischmann was that Cain could have Fleischmann’s first-born son. Victor says Fleischmann married Eva and drugged her so she couldn’t have children, but when he heard from Victor that Cain had drowned he felt the threat had gone and so Jacob was born, and then Jacob drowned. 

They watch an old cine film taken by the Fleischmanns which shows the garden of statues, with a cat at the clown’s feet which is Irina’s cat from the train station, and shows the statues in different positions and the clown’s face changing into a smile. 

Max goes to Jacob’s mausoleum where there’s a six-pointed star on the grave and two angel statues outside, then one of the statues appears inside the mausoleum with Max and the face changes into a clown. Max drops his watch in Jacob’s mausoleum in his terror.

And then things get even stranger (!) as Max’s watch can be seen in another cine film which shows Jacob as Roland, and Jacob turns out to be Roland. Roland/Jacob is lost to Cain in the end, but Max survives. Cain says he has been known by many names. 

There are some interesting themes in this book, lots of links with time such as the station clock moving backwards, the cine film showing a clock-face, Max’s dad being a watchmaker and giving Max a watch showing the moon and sun. There is also a significance with dates too, as 23rd June is the date the boat sinks, that Jacob ‘drowns’, and that Cain returns. And of course the devil figure, Cain in this book but there are other devil figures in Zafon’s other books. I am also intrigued if such themes gave Zafon the ideas that he brought more fully into his adult books.

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon available on Amazon
 Kindle  Hardback
 Paperback  Audiobook

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