The Prisoner of Heaven

( 42 )

Overview

Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past.

His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take ...

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Overview

Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife, Bea, have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the city's dark past.

His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time launch them on a search for the truth that will put into peril everything they love, and will ultimately transform their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

The Guardian
“[A novel] with the blissful narrative drive of a high-class mystery… Ruiz Zafón is a splendidly solicitous craftsman, careful to give the reader at least as much pleasure as he is evidently having.”
New York Journal of Books
“The story has heart, menace torture, kindness, cruelty, sacrifice, and a deep devotion to what makes humans tick.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Perhaps his wittiest [novel] and the darkest to date, a stylistic feat that Ruiz Zafon handles deftly…Savor this book.”
Booklist
“Gripping…suspenseful…The magic of the novel is in the wonderfully constructed creepy and otherworldly setting, the likable characters, and the near-perfect dialogue.”
Book Reporter
“Invoking the atmosphere of Dumas, Dickens, Poe and Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruiz Zafon retains his originality and will hold his rightful place among the storytelling masters of literature.”
Miami Herald
“There is an air of magical realism to Zafón’s tales. The prose is robust and the dialogue rich with smart irony. But mostly, reading Zafón is great fun.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A deep and mysterious novel full of people that feel real…This is an enthralling read and a must-have for your library. Zafón focusses on the emotion of the reader and doesn’t let go.”
The Washington Post
Full of stylish writing, Gothic atmosphere and love letters to 19th-century novels…
—Yvonne Zipp
Publishers Weekly
Characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game reconvene in Zafón's newest literary thriller. When a stranger shows up at the struggling Sempere & Sons bookshop in Barcelona in 1957 to buy a rare and expensive volume, Daniel Sempere—the son—sets out to uncover the mysterious man's motives. The resulting mix of history and mystery drives this third installment in Zafón's cycle about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a "sprawling labyrinth…like the trunk of an endless tree." What Daniel discovers will implicate those he loves, has lost, and loathes—from his soon-to-be-wed friend, Fermín; to Daniel's mother, Isabella, who died under questionable circumstances; his father; his wife, Bea, and infant son, Julian; and a host of schemers, torturers, corrupt governmental officials, writers, and lovers, many of whom have changed identities, hurriedly penned secret missives, and stashed keys to hidden treasures. Zafón's storytelling is deft and well-paced, and his vivid prose brings the cultural riches and political strife of Franco-era Spain to life. Though the book will undoubtedly please readers familiar with his other novels, as the introduction explains, the book is a "self-contained tale" capable of standing alone—something it does with aplomb. (July)
The Guardian
“[A novel] with the blissful narrative drive of a high-class mystery… Ruiz Zafón is a splendidly solicitous craftsman, careful to give the reader at least as much pleasure as he is evidently having.”
New York Journal of Books
“The story has heart, menace torture, kindness, cruelty, sacrifice, and a deep devotion to what makes humans tick.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Perhaps his wittiest [novel] and the darkest to date, a stylistic feat that Ruiz Zafon handles deftly…Savor this book.”
Booklist
“Gripping…suspenseful…The magic of the novel is in the wonderfully constructed creepy and otherworldly setting, the likable characters, and the near-perfect dialogue.”
Book Reporter
“Invoking the atmosphere of Dumas, Dickens, Poe and Garcia Marquez, Carlos Ruiz Zafon retains his originality and will hold his rightful place among the storytelling masters of literature.”
Miami Herald
“There is an air of magical realism to Zafón’s tales. The prose is robust and the dialogue rich with smart irony. But mostly, reading Zafón is great fun.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“A deep and mysterious novel full of people that feel real…This is an enthralling read and a must-have for your library. Zafón focusses on the emotion of the reader and doesn’t let go.”
Kirkus Reviews
The Count of Monte Cristo finds justice--after a fashion, anyway, and by the most roundabout of routes. Daniel Sempere leads a life of bookish desperation in a Barcelona still reeling from the years of the Franco dictatorship. His father is even more desperate; no one is buying his wares, and there are always bills to pay. It's with considerable if very temporary relief that, while his father is away from their bookshop, Daniel sells a rare copy of The Count of Monte Cristo to a shadowy stranger who uses it to send a message to a helper in the store: "For Fermín Romero de Torres, who came back from among the dead and holds the key to the future." Who is the stranger, and what does his dark message mean? Will Daniel's long-suffering wife run off, leaving the book retailer for a book publisher? Will anyone in our time read Dumas père's book without having to be assigned to do so? For that matter, why did Franco ban Dumas, and what kind of trouble is Daniel in for because he has a copy for sale? From those promising if murky beginnings, Ruiz Zafón's story takes off, resembling a Poe story here, a dark Lovecraft fantasy there, a sunny Christopher Morley yarn over there. The influences of those authors, to say nothing of Dumas and Balzac, are everywhere, though it's a little disconcerting to find a street girl talking like Oliver Twist: "It's me tits....A joy to look at, aren't they, even though I shouldn't say so." But Ruiz Zafón's story soon takes twists into the fantastic and metaphorical, heading underground literally and figuratively, to places such as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a place that only good and diligent readers ever get to visit, and in which the solution to the mystery is lain. Ruiz Zafón narrowly avoids preciousness, and the ghosts of Spain that turn up around every corner are real enough. Readers are likely to get a kick out of this improbable, oddly entertaining allegory.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062206299
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/12/2013
  • Series: Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series , #3
  • Pages: 278
  • Sales rank: 99,605
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of two critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling novels, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, is one of the world's most-read and best-loved writers. His work, which also includes prizewinning young adult novels, has been translated into more than fifty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 42 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(20)

4 Star

(17)

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(5)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Bridge Between The Shadow of The Wind and The Angel's Game

    Prisoner of Heaven is Carlos Ruiz Zafron's third book and is a sequel to his other two books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game.

    It is set once again in Barcelona, Christmas time in 1957. Daniel Sempere is married to his wife, Bea. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermin Romero de Torres is about to be wed. A mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop. His appearance takes Fermin and Daniel into an adventure that takes them back to the 1940s and the early days of Franco's dictatorship. In this book we learn the background of Fermín Romero de Torres. Not only are secrets revealed about Fermin but Daniel also discovers secrets about his connection with David Martin which were touched upon in The Angel's Game.

    Although, all three books can be read in any order, my suggestion would be to read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game first. There are many references to these two books throughout The Prisoner of Heaven.

    Carlos Ruiz Zafron is one of the word's most read and best-loved writers and I was anxiously awaiting this novel for another dose of his beautiful prose. He did not disappoint, as this novel was an excellent bridge beween the first two and answers some questions but not all. Zafron does leave you at the end with an added anticipation for the last and final novel of the series.

    I highly recommend this book and I give it 5 stars!

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the Cemetery of Forg

    The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

    Carlos Ruiz Zafon hooked me with The Shadow of the Wind (Book 1), left me desiring a little more with The Angel’s Game (Book 2), but tied it all together fabulously with The Prisoner of Heaven (Book 3).

    The author says that the books can be read in any order, and when you change the order, you change the way you experience the story.  This seems to be true, however, I loved reading the books in the order they came out, where The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game were somewhat related, but I wasn’t sure how until The Prisoner of Heaven came along and basically slapped me in the face with its awesomeness.

    The Prisoner of Heaven may have been my favorite of the three books.  I could not put it down, reading all 300 pages in less than a day.

    Daniel Sempere is happily married and running the family bookstore with his father and best friend Fermín Romero de Torres.  Fermín will soon be married, but something is in the way.  When Fermín opens up to Daniel about what really has occurred in his past, secrets are revealed, questions are answered, and more questions arise.

    The Prisoner of Heaven was a phenomenal read that sucked me in and kept me turning the pages without wanting to put the book down.  Carlos Ruiz Zafon did a great job tying up loose ends while still leaving the book open at the end for another in the series (which I would read in a heartbeat if you are writing it!).  And of course, Daniel visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which is one of my favorite fictional places in the entire world.

    I highly recommend that you read all three books in this series, but I have to say, I think this book was the best of all three so far!

    Who’s up for a trip to Barcelona???

    I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    What do you think about reading a series out of order?

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz-Zafón, translated f

    The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz-Zafón, translated from Spanish by Laura Graves

    The last installment in the Zafón trilogy that deals with the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”--the other two being The Shadow of the Wing, and The Angel’s Game.

    Plot:

    The book is narrated by Julián Sempere, son of the owner of Sempere Bookstore in Barcelona. It’s Christmas 1957 and sales have not been good. Mr. Sempere starts a Nativity scene on the store’s display. Things pick up. One day, when Julián is left alone to manage the store, a stranger buys the most expensive book in the store--300pesetas--with a 1000 peseta bill and leaves the change. The book is for Fermín Romero de Torres, Julián’s best friend and co-worker in the bookshop. The stranger leaves a note: For Fermín Romero de Torres, who came back from among the dead and holds the key to the future.

    Julián can’t resist his curiosity and follows the stranger back to an hourly hotel where the man has rented a room for two weeks.

    The strange man plunges Fermín--who’s about to marry Bernarda in two months--and Julián into a dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940’s and a prison in the early days of Franco’s dictatorship.

    The terrifying story deals with the governor of the Prison--Mauricio Valls--an evil man responsible for Julián’s mother death, Fermín as prisoner number 13, his infamous escape from that prison, and David Martin--The Prisoner of heaven--who masterminds Fermín’s escape and writes The Angel’s Game--as a gift to Julián--and tells the story that transforms all of their lives.

    Comment:

    The three books can be read in any particular order and are the best I’ve seen come out of Spain. They read easily and once you start them, you can’t put them down. I strongly recommend them to everyone....

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 5, 2012

    If you've liked Zafón's other works, then read this, but don't be expecting the excellence of "Shadow of the Wind".

    Overall, I liked this story because it was quintessentially Zafón's style and prose, but it seemed to be lacking in detail when compared to "Shadow of the Wind". Although I did enjoy reading about Fermin's backstory, I would have liked to have seen more of a development with Daniel, especially in regards to his relationship with Bea. It was an interesting story that kept me invested, but it was not the author's best work. Furthermore, I would've liked for the book to be longer; it just seemed too brief and restrained to its brevity. I am not sure if the lack of detail in the prose relates to the translation, but that is another issue. Final verdict: if you've liked Zafón's other work(s), then you should definitely read this, but don't be expecting anything near the accomplishment of "The Shadow of the Wind".

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2014

    Highly Recommended!

    Carlos Ruiz Zafon has done it again. He has weaved a beautiful story that continues the trilogy. Great reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2013

    The Shadow of the Wind was much better...

    The Shadow of the Wind was much better...

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 8, 2012

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings The third in a

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

    The third in a sort of series that made me fall even more in love with the characters and the setting of this bookshop in Barcelona. With repeating characters, this book was easy to get into and even harder to put down - I loved revisiting some of the characters at a different point in their lives and seeing what they were up to at this moment.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    Not as good as Shadow of the Wind...

    But what is?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    Jail cells 11-31

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    I want to see this Cemetary of Books

    When I was turned on this writer I was not sure I would his work. How wrong was I. With each page I read I am in Barcelona at Sempere Book Store. Carlos Ruiz Zafron paints a picture and you can't help but feel drawn in. You get to know and feel his characters as if they can be you or someone you know. A book like this you don't want to ever finish but when you are done all you can say is damn that was good book!

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    This book answered several questions left from The Shadow of the

    This book answered several questions left from The Shadow of the Wind
    and The Angel's Game. It is set, again, in Barcelona. Daniel is alone
    in the Sempre & Sons bookshop when a mysterious old man walks in
    asking for Fermin. Once he leaves Daniel decides to follow him. After
    confronting Fermin about the mysterious man Fermin starts to tell him
    "the truth". Fermin's back story finally comes to light and
    the web of corruption and old secrets starts to unravel. You will hear
    about the connections between Daniel and other characters from The
    Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's game. Although all three books can
    be read in any order, I would NOT recommend you start with this book.
    First read either The Shadow of the Wind or The Angel's Game then
    proceed to read The Prisoner of Heaven and the remaining book in any
    order.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great Nar­ra­tive, Prose and Won­der­ful Comedic Tim­ing

    The Pris­oner of Heaven by Car­los Ruiz Zafón is the third book in the For­got­ten Books series. The first two books, The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game have been inter­na­tional best sell­ers.

    Daniel Sem­pere and his wife Bea are con­tent with their life and their beau­ti­ful new baby, Julian and that their good friend, Fermin Romero de Tor­res is about to get mar­ried. But when a strange walks into Sempere's book shop and threat­ens to divulge a ter­ri­ble secret about Fer­min, their hap­pi­ness subsides.

    Daniel and Fer­min go down a path which they might never come back, and if they do, they will never be the same. The story jumps from Barcelona 1957, to 1940 -- a ter­ri­ble time in Spain's tumul­tuous his­tory to reveal, piece by piece, more about the char­ac­ters which we thought we knew.

    The Pris­oner of Heaven by Car­los Ruiz Zafón is also set in Barcelona, much like the other books. This time though the story tog­gles between the 1940s and the late 1950s .

    This book is almost impos­si­ble to put down, if you liked the first two (espe­cially The Shadow of the Wind), you will love this book is it keeps the same sto­ry­telling and most of all, the same won­der­ful sense of humor. The book is shorten than its pre­de­ces­sors, the struc­ture, which as men­tioned above still fol­lows a past/present thread is more clearly defined. In the pre­vi­ous books the thread was inter­min­gled and took some get­ting used in order to fol­low properly.

    Out of the three books, this one is the least self-contained. I would actu­ally rec­om­mend read­ing the other two, espe­cially The Angel's Game first because The Pris­oner of Heaven ties up a lot of loose ends which can only be under­stood in the ref­er­ence of the back story and famil­iar­ity with the prior books.

    I for­got how much I liked the fab­u­lous char­ac­ter of Fer­min Romero de Tor­res, which is quickly becom­ing one of my favorite lit­er­ary char­ac­ters. A roman­tic at heart, lin­guist in mind and a dreamer by trade, Fermin's out­ra­geous and often hilar­i­ous obser­va­tions leave me in envy and awe with a thirst for more.
    I remiss not to men­tion another one of the author's unsung char­ac­ters, the city of Barcelona which is revealed, through­out the series in all her grit and glory in both sun and shade.

    One could not also forego Zafón's trib­utes to pre­vi­ous mas­ter­ful sto­ry­tellers. From obvi­ous Dumas to Cer­vantes, Dick­ens to Hugo these mas­ters would be proud of the homage paid to them (in pur­pose or just in this reader's mind - does it even mat­ter?) in another mas­ter­ful tale.

    The great nar­ra­tive, prose and won­der­ful comedic tim­ing con­tinue in the strong tra­di­tion of the For­got­ten Books series. I read many trans­lated books and I have to say that this series is prob­a­bly the finest trans­lated (even though I don't read in Span­ish). Usu­ally there are

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2012

    Wonderful cycle of novels

    I must confess I read the hardback edition. "Prisoner of Heaven" is the third book in a wonderful cycle of novels. Others have suggested that it's the last or the next-to-last volume. Ha! Start with any of them, read them all, and don't believe the cycle is finished until the author says so.

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    Posted January 13, 2013

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    Posted August 1, 2014

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