Title: The Prince of Mist
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
May Contain Spoilers
t’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.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I enjoyed reading it, and I felt a connection with Max, the main character, from the very first page. The story is deliciously creepy and suspenseful, and I couldn’t put it down. Which leads to my dissatisfaction; the ending is abrupt, and there were so many unanswered questions that I feel a bit, dare I say, cheated? The other two books in the series are only loosely connected, and don’t have the same characters. So I am at a loss here; do I get all gushy about the run-up to the ending, or do I focus on my disappointment with the not so tidy finale?
Max and his family move from the city to a seaside village during the war, where his father, an eccentric watchmaker, believes they will be safe from the tragedy of a seemingly never ending conflict. From the moment they arrive, Max feels uneasy in his new surroundings. The clock in the train stations runs backwards. The creepy garden behind their yard has eerie statues of a circus troop clustered around a clown, which seems to move and change every time Max sees it. The house has a sad history, as well; the only child of the former residents drowned tragically in the sea.
After some unsettling accidents happen in the house, Max and his sister Alicia are both frightened. There’s their youngest sister’s scary cat, those freaky statues, and things that seem to go bump in the night. With their new friend, Roland, they are determined to discover the secret behind the unsettling events that keep happening.
The tense atmosphere kept me turning the pages, and I was even creeped out a few times. I hate clowns, they are scary and wrong, and so I was a little leery every time Max so much as glanced over at the garden of statues. The kids find themselves in several life threatening situations, which got my heart tripping in a panic. Why, why, why do the characters in horror stories insist on putting themselves in danger? Max, Alicia, and Roland are all very clever, so I wanted to shake them every time they did something that got them into trouble. Agh! Common sense! Please, just use a little bit of it!
I loved the setting; the sleepy coastal village was perfect for a horror story. You’ve got the hidden dangers lurking in the waters, sudden, violent storms, an isolated beach. Yeow! All of the components for a scary encounter with a scary, scary villain. While the Prince of Mist was an evil, cunning opponent, I never felt that I understand what motivated him to be so horrible. Being evil just for the sake of being evil isn’t convincing, but that is about all of the depth that Cain is given.
Despite my disappointment with the final resolution, The Prince of Mist is a solid, engaging MG read.
Review copy provided by publisher