Review Blog

Jun 30 2010

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

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W&N, 2010. ISBN 9780297856429.
(Age 11+) Recommended. When Max Carver's father decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, Max is fascinated by the secrets in the old house that they live in. It has a strange garden with statues that look like a circus troop. An eerie clown statue which stands at the centre of the six-pointed star in the garden, seems to come alive. A black cat with strange eyes attaches itself to the family and they find old films belonging to the previous owners, the Fleischmanns, whose son has died in mysterious circumstances. In the bay below the house is a ship that was wrecked many years before in a terrible storm. Max meets Roland and together with his sister Alicia, they go diving to investigate the shipwreck. Gradually the chilling story of the Prince of Mists emerges.
The Prince of Mist was first published in 1993 and was specifically written for young adults by Carlos Ruiz Zafron who has had enormous success with his adult novel Shadow of the wind. It is a haunting story of the evil Dr Cain who promises wish fulfilment, but at a terrible price. I was fascinated with the idea of having a wish granted and it was a compelling exercise to see what people were prepared to give up to gain what they wanted. The story is much more subtle than found in many of the gothic thrillers around, and although deceptively easy to read, leaves behind much to think about.
Told in the third person, all the characters are fleshed out well. Max is an inquisitive boy, who is determined to find out about the frightening Clown apparition. The Prince of Mists emerges as a very sinister and frightening character, who is scary enough to stay in the reader's memory. Roland and Alicia's delicate romance add to the interest and the adults in the family, seen through the eyes of Max, are believable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful, well-written and creepy ghost story.
Pat Pledger

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