Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an award-winning Spanish novelist, not particularly known for young adult fiction, and until recently, not widely read in English. That's about to change, thanks to a wonderfully faithful translation by his frequent translating partner, Lucia Graves. The Prince of Mist, Zafon’s timeless first book, originally published in 1993, has finally been given the attention it deserves. Complimenting this elegant work of mystery is the voice work of Jonathan Davis, who has over 150 audiobooks to his credit, and the production work of Michele McGonigle, who contributed a wonderful array of sound effects in addition to a seven-minute interview with the author at the end of the audiobook.
Everything about this story is on the checklist for young adult genre cliché, but between the author's graceful Spanish flair, the narrator's lively telling, and the producer's spot-on background sounds, the entire thing manages to delight where similar books have been doomed. You've got a brother and sister who are coming of age, forced to move to a sleepy seaside town by the war encroaching upon their city, and the charming local boy next door who befriends them. You've got the tragic death of a young boy who once lived in the house, the father who fixes clocks, the reclusive grandfather harboring a secret, the eerily vigilant stray cat, the creepy clown, the mythic traveling magician, and rumors of a deal made with the devil. Don't forget to throw in an overgrown garden where the statues seem to move, some terrifying old home movie projector interruptions, and an abandoned shipwreck inhabited by a fearsome sea monster.
Taken together, these conventional bits are a recipe for surprising success as Davis gives real spirit and charm to the teens menaced by this mystery. When The Prince of Mist finally makes his grand entrance, his grizzled taunts are some of Davis' best work. Through the book, there is a gentle undercurrent of sounds that give the story a wonderfully cinematic feel. From moving trains to stormy seas, and meowing cats to screaming girls, the effects really kick the adrenaline up a notch. In addition, the opening and closing music is written and performed by the author himself, a very fitting dirge of piano and violin that perfectly conveys the mood of his story. What should be a light and cheesy mystery for kids is, in the end, somehow actually quite a magical piece of audio that will satisfy grown-ups as well. Megan Volpert
It's war time, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they've recently bought a home. But from the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners' son, who died by drowning.
With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the strange circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called the Prince of Mist - a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden - an adventure that will change their lives forever.
©2010 Carlos Ruiz Zafon (P)2010 Hachette
I enjoyed this book though I was surprised as I got into it that it's really for teens. I will let my teen son listen. No bad language. No real violence. Reads like a teen novel as far as action and character development. I really enjoyed it though. Reminds me of Something Wicked this Way comes - sort of eerie carnival type story with ghosts etc. Fun listen and great narrator.
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I love all of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books, I hope there will be more available soon! Mystical, magical mayhem...I loved everything about this story, absolutely everything.
I enjoy a wide variety of novels in audio book format. As a commuter with 140 miles/day. I can burn through titles quickly.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my favorite authors. I have read and listened to his books, both are stellar formats since Carlos is a fantastic writer and the translations from Spanish are rich and fluid.
Yes, both the author and the narrator are excellent.
Maybe it's just me, but I like a story that's believable. This one was just too "out there" for me, especially when the ship supposedly rose out of the ocean - come on!!! That was like the straw that broke the camel's back!
Yes, I listened to "Shadow of the Wind" and loved his performance. As usual, Jonathan delivered a wonderful performance throughout. However, the over the top music was a little bit heavy and kind of weird at times, it took away from the performance to some degree.
Yes, it caused me to pay more attention to the reviews. Most of them relayed the same info I referenced earlier (i.e. don't bother listening to this one), but I went ahead and wasted my money on it anyway!
I think that other than this particular work, Carlos is an outstanding author and I will try some of his other books. Hopefully they won't be as fantastically over the top and incredulous as this one was.
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