Carlos Ruiz Zafon, having enjoyed his adult novels The Shadow of the Wind and the Angels Game. I was surprised to find that The Prince of Mist was actually the first novel Zafon wrote and this and his first four novels were all young adult offerings.
The Prince of Mist is a period piece as well. It is 1943 and the Carver family - Mom, Dad, Max, Alicia and Irina leave the city and move to a coastal town to avoid the war. They move into a house formerly occupied by a Dr. Fleishman. His son Jacob tragically drowned on the beach close by. There are many things that seem bit off for Max, the 13 yr old protagonist. Clocks that may be moving backward, a cat that seems to be staring at him, a mysterious garden of stone statues and more. Max and Alicia make friends with Roland, a boy from the nearby town. The oddities and strange happenings continue to build (no one likes an evil clown), culminating in a dramatic climax.
Although it was a young adult title, I totally enjoyed The Prince of Mist. I listened to it in audio format. The reader was Jonathan Davis. In the beginning I found the inflection a bit static. It was difficult to determine what character was talking unless you listened for the 'Max said' clarifiers. As the tension increased in the story, so did the timbre and tone.
The ambiance of the story is pure Zafon. It has a Gothic horror, mysterious feel. Magic, fantasy and yes, some romance are all part of the tale. Zafon is able to conjure up such a deliciously creepy atmosphere with his rich and evocative prose.
I enjoyed listening to Zafon's first novel - his adult novels are an extension and growth of the style shown in this first book. A book for fans, young and older.
Read an excerpt of The Prince of Mist. Or experience an audio chapter.