The Prisoner of Heaven – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

A that time of day the crews of a number of military and merchant ships docked in the port happened to be venturing up the Ramblas to satisfy cravings of various sorts. In view of the demand, the supply had already appeared on the corner: a rota of ladies for rent who looked as if they had clocked up quite a few miles and were ready to offer a very affordable minimum fare.

The third (chronologically released) in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s gothic Barcelona series, and Fermin Romero de Torres wants to reclaim his identity so he can marry Bernarda.  As he reveals to Daniel Sempere, his closest friend, why this is required he reveals just how their lives became entangled back in the Shadow of the Wind.

This is fiction at it’s best, seductive enough to draw you in, interesting enough to keep you going and easy enough to glide through like you’re swimming through melted toffee. Barcelona during the 50’s is wonderfully depicted again as the Sempere book shop see’s intrigue amongst it’s collection, as well as a nativity scene and an Italian cousin.
Fermin and Daniel are once again the main protagonists, and there is a faint, but growing shadow as Daniel realises what Fermin’s revelations mean to him and his life, as returning characters hover around them like moths to the light.

It states at the beginning that the trilogy of books so far, including The Angels Game, can be read in any order, and independently.  What I did enjoy immensely was the way that this tied into the trilogy.  It is set chronologically after the story in Shadow, but before it’s epilogue. Julian Carax is mentioned a few times and it recalls that adventure, but it is the way that Ruiz Zafon links to The Angels Game which is really fascinating and creates an almost circular, layered connection rather than a straightforward linear one.

What this feels like though is the Empire Strikes Back of the series.  It seems slightly shorter than Shadow, and The Angels Game, and there is no ending as such, the Epilogue screams that there will be a fourth (and apparently final) instalment.  I will be reading that as soon as it comes out (in paperback anyway) and I can see if I can beat the record I set with this book, which I started on Tuesday evening and finished on Wednesday evening.

‘I have a tempting offer to start a career as a gigolo and bodyguard and move in with a wench who is a bit flighty but has a good heart, and spectacular bodywork. But I don’t see myself playing the role of a kept man even at the feet of the Venus of Jerez.’

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