Saturday, November 12, 2011

Book Review: The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Publisher's Summary:
In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery....

Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life....
Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's 16th birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night - and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.

The Midnight Palace is my second Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel, I finished The Shadow of the Wind last week and so enjoyed it that I HAD to go back to listen to another Zafon novel. I wasn't disappointed, The Midnight Palace is every bit as charming and intriguing as The Shadow of the Wind. A great deal of this credit must go to translator Lucia Graves, who surprised me again with rich language and a flawless translation.

The Midnight Palace and The Shadow of the Wind share a fire theme - fire running prominently through both novels. The Midnight Palace adds a hearty dose of supernatural influence, the theme of twins - separated soon after birth who find each other as they come of age and they are forced to confront their own demons and those of their mother and father.

The Midnight Palace (like The Shadow of the Wind) - starts strongly and continues on that pace throughout the entire novel, evenly paced and not a single wasted or superfluous word. Zafon's language is entrancing. If I have one complaint it's that the story (for me) was not as compelling as The Shadow of the Wind. Orphan twins, separated shortly after birth - you know they'll eventually find their way to each other and you hope that the evil forces responsible for their separation won't survive the sixteen years to their maturity. Somewhat predictably this isn't the case at all, the evil forces even more determined to hunt down the twins..

The Midnight Palace is labeled as Young Adult fiction, which I think is technically the teen 14-18 crowd. I'm not sure that a fourteen year old Erica would have appreciated the tapestry that Carlos Ruiz Zafon  has woven here, though she probably could have better related to the coming of age struggles of our orphans Ben and Sheree.

The Midnight Palace was written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (original Spanish copyright January 2003) and translated into English by Lucia Graves (copyright 2011) Penguin Books. Audio Release date 05/31/2011. The Midnight Palace was narrated by Jonathan Davis and has a runtime of 7 hours 9 minutes.

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