The atrocities of war simmer deep within the men and women that experience the worst there is to offer. Often the memories lay dormant for years before they are brought to the surface to face the light of day.
In the prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, we are taken into the world of Barcelona in the 1950’s were we are introduced to the life of Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea. The family owned book store is famous and Daniel is becoming a part of its growing recognition. As he watches the store for his father, he is surprised by a stranger, one who is intent on buying one of their most precious treasures. When he makes notations in the book, then returns it to Daniel to pass on to a friend, he is dismayed. Although the book had been purchased before being defaced, what does his good friend have to do this this dark and mysterious stranger?
With his curiosity in full swing he approaches his friend Fermin Romero de Torres with the strange quest. Soon to be married, Fermin is horrified, somehow his past is catching up, and secrets that he thought long buried threaten to come bubbling forward into a life that has no part of his past. A past that takes him back to the early 1940s and a life he thought was long buried. Sharing this past with his friend Daniel, he relives the horror from his earlier years.
How can he cope, will the knowledge he is sharing create even further umbrage, or can they band together to stop the dark secrets from tumbling into the open, threatening his very existence.
Zafon has written a deep and mysterious novel full of people that are real. His characterization is spot on–humor is only one of the ways that he draws us to the characters. The darkness he reveals feels real and yet surreal as only the unimaginable can. The women that are introduced create a foil that only makes the atrocities seem more horrifying.
The story is fraught with pain and turmoil, but threaded with hope and belief. The emotion is well written and the mystery continues to deepen, enthralling the reader with the danger and darkness capable of being inflicted in the name of new leaders. As the new regime of that place and era entrench themselves, many of those willing to question the status are crushed in the cruel systems of anarchy.
If you enjoy historical fiction full of danger and intrigue, you will find this a fascinating read. The humor and dialogue draw you in, the story of a time in history will have fascinated and horrified at the same time. This would be a great book for a book club, or reading group. There are layers and subterfuge that must be cleared to see the picture, a picture of pain and depravity, but one of hope and healing as well.
This is an enthralling read and a must have for your library. Zafron focusses on the emotion of the reader and doesn’t let go.
This book was received free from the publicist. All opinions are my own based off my reading and understanding of the material.