Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publication Date: 2010 (English translation), 1993 (in Spanish)
The first of Carlos Ruis Zafon’s books to be translated into English was The Shadow of the Wind, but The Prince of Mist was his first published novel and it came out in Spain (as a young adult book) in 1993 as El príncipe de la niebla.
From Amazon UK:
1943. As war sweeps across Europe, Max Carver’s father moves his family away from the city, to an old wooden house on the coast. But as soon as they arrive, strange things begin to happen: Max discovers a garden filled with eerie statues; his sisters are plagued by unsettling dreams and voices; a box of old films opens a window to the past. Most unsettling of all are rumours about the previous owners and the mysterious disappearance of their son. As Max delves into the past, he encounters the terrifying story of the Prince of Mist, a sinister shadow who emerges from the night to settle old scores, then disappears with the first mists of dawn . . .
I have read and enjoyed both The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game so I was really looking forward to reading The Prince of Mist. Unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed by the book. The Prince of Mist is spot on in terms of atmosphere and tone, but I was never completely convinced by the plot. As I was reading the book I kept getting the feeling that Zafon was writing himself into a corner and didn’t really have a clear idea of how all the strands and threads of the storyline were to be tied up. The conclusion felt rushed and I was left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I think the book would have benefitted from being about fifty pages longer.
It’s really obvious that The Prince of Mist was originally published before The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game. There are a lot of story elements in The Prince of Mist which reappear, in a more sophisticated and satisfying way, in his later novels. It’s almost as if Carlos Ruis Zafon’s used The Prince of Mist as a testing ground for his ideas.
The Prince of Mist is not a bad book by any means. Like all of Carlos Ruis Zafon’s books, it is very readable and atmospheric, and I thought the characters, particularly Max, were believable and well-written. However, although I’m glad I read it, for the reasons discussed above, I did not enjoy it as much as his other books.
Rating: 6 out of 10