THE PRINCE OF MIST

1 Feb

I read this book in 2010 when it was introduced into the U.S. by First Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. The original publication was in 1993 as El Principe de la Niebla, later translated by Lucia Graves.Image

This is Zafon’s first novel, and whilst I now see the author‘s imprint in his storytelling, there are no other similarities to the body of work that followed. As I recall, this was to be a scary telling but, to me, it only skimmed the surface of the creepiness it was meant to convey. But then, this novel was written for the Young Adult in mind. By the time I got my hands on this book, I’d already grown out of fearing things that go bump-in-the-night. To the young reader (pre 12 years), however, this is something that should not be read in the dark. With a flashlight. Under the blankets. So what follows is from my younger point of view.

The setting is 1943, and the patriarch of the Carver family moves them to a small costal village, away from the ravages of war. A 13 year old boy and his two sisters, one slightly older, the other younger, find spine-tingling creaks in their new old-house with, as they soon discover, a haunting past. But it’s not until they meet a boy from the town that their real spook fest begins: the wreck of a sunken ship; eerie voices; disturbing nightmares; the spirit of a boy who lived in the very same house until his death by drowning; and the gothic darkness of the mist. Ah yes, my 12 year old self found the shadows within these pages to be quite diabolically disturbing.

This first whispers of future brilliance, and if you are a Zafonian, then you must read this book, even if you are not a YA reader. From a writer’s perspective, the root of a body of work is always something that has captivated me. More so than the actual story. The Prince of Mist sets the foundation for the imagery masterfully depicted in Zafon’s subsequent adult (as in ‘mature’) books.

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