The International Writers Magazine: Young Teen Fiction
The Prince of Mist
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Orion Children's Books
ISBN 978 - 1444000443
Part one of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s ‘The Prince of the Mist’. A children’s story which marks Zafon’s debut in 1993 (Spain). The manuscript is now translated and waiting to hit the shelves.
Max is a young boy, the son of a watchmaker. One day his father turns around and announces that they are moving. To go where? A small coastal town, far from the city and the threat of war. Safe from bullets? Maybe, but what about the rest? As they move into their new house, something isn’t right. Clocks start ticking backwards, shadows crawl out of bedroom wardrobes, and is it him or does the mist whisper? Before the boxes are even unpacked his little sister gets hurt. With the parents away at the hospital it isn’t long before Max, his older sister and new friend end up fighting for their lives, and the truth.
I picked up this book full of excitement. Reading is like holding a ticket, it’s a new journey every time, one you can’t ever predict exactly. Spanish fantasy sounded marvellous, Pan’s Labyrinth, Water and Chocolate and all these sprung to mind. So, so?
Well sadly I never left the station.
The story line wasn’t strong enough; there were potholes, gaps on the way to lift off. The war, which war? It is mentioned, it is practical, but its presence feels unreal. The lack of setting left me sitting in an uncomfortable seat, all the way to the end.
The black cat had quite a build up to him but tottered off too soon. As for the menacing figure in the mist, his pointy smile and clownish costume brought Penny Wise to mind, it was a swift defeat (which is reassuring for a kids story!). But to defend this new tale of a monster, there was one scene which did work nicely, the meeting in the graveyard. The highlight of the book in tension, but again it to left too quickly.
So my final word is: I listened to this story, but it never spoke to me. A shame.
© Nina Aumaitre September 2010
petite_ninoushka at hotmail.com
The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
Publisher: Orion Childrens Books (2009)
Nina Aumaitre review
France 1793, blood is running in rivulets down the streets as
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