The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is part of the Shadow of the Wind cycle of books. I say cycle and not series because they can be read as standalone books in any order. However, as things like this usually go, they are more rewarding if read in order.
Those who have read Shadow of the Wind will know the main characters in the book. The story starts with a grown-up Daniel married to Bea and together they have a young son named Julian. Daniel’s friend Fermín will be getting married in a few months. But one morning a mysterious man walks into the bookshop looking for Fermín who has not arrived for work yet. In order to leave Fermín a message, the man buys an expensive collector’s copy of the Count of Monte Cristo and writes a cryptic note on the flyleaf. When Fermín finally finds out about it he is sent into a tailspin of depression. The bulk of the book then becomes a Fermín flashback to the time he spent in prison at Montjuic in the 40s and how he escaped. For those who have read Angel’s Game, some familiar characters from that book will be recognized.
Back to the present, good things happen at the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. And further mysteries remain, conjured up by Fermín’s story, that Daniel will not allow to go unsolved. But that will be for another book.
Prisoner of Heaven is short in comparison to the other two books in the cycle so it made for a fairly fast read. While I enjoyed it very much and while I loved the character of Fermín in Shadow of the Wind, there was something missing from this book, I just didn’t care for Fermín like I did in Shadow. I still liked him very much but there was no spark. Maybe this is because there is not much feeling of peril in this book. The flashback to when Fermín was in prison is horrific at times, but I knew Fermín would be fine so there was no suspense. And the present-day (in book time) mystery was interesting but also lacked peril. I don’t want to make the Prisoner of Heaven sound like a bad book, it isn’t, I enjoyed it. The trouble is, when the first book of a cycle is as phenomenal as Shadow of the Wind was, all the books that follow will always be compared and nearly always fall short. Bookman read the book about the same time I did. His assessment amounts to “good but not Shadow of the Wind.”
I received a finished hardcover of the book from the publisher for a giveaway. If you would like a chance to win the book, let me know in the comments. I will draw a name on Saturday morning (August 29th). Anyone who wishes to enter can, I will send the book internationally so don’t be shy!