During Christmastime 1957 in Barcelona, Spain, bookseller Daniel Sempere is minding his father’s shop, hoping sales will improve. Otherwise, things are good. He and his wife, Bea, have a baby boy named Julián, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to finally give up bachelorhood and marry his beloved Bernarda. But then a mysterious stranger visits the shop looking for Fermín. Already worried about his impending nuptials, Fermín is terribly shaken, and Daniel is determined to find out why.
Thus the action is set in motion in The Prisoner of Heaven, the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Taking place after the action of The Shadow of the Wind and incorporating The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven evokes the same gothic atmosphere of Spain during the first half of the 20th century. And once again, Zafón’s storytelling draws the reader into this complex world and creates a plot with pain-turning drive. We find out about Fermín’s time in prison and his connection to the Semperes. David Martin, the protagonist of The Angel’s Game, plays a significant role, and Zafón connects the three books in satisfying ways while adding a new narrative thread that will undoubtedly be featured in the next book in the cycle.
While I greatly enjoyed The Prisoner of Heaven, I found myself wishing I remembered the earlier books better. I re-read the book jackets and did some Internet searching looking for plot details I sort of remembered, both of which I found frustrating. (Those Internet folks did a good job of not revealing spoilers!) I wish had the time to read all three close together; I have a feeling I would be very pleased with how they fit with each other.
But then I would be even more anxious for the story to continue. If you enjoyed Zafón’s previous books in the cycle, it’s a sure bet you’re going to enjoy this one as well.