"The southern beach, on the other side of the town, was shaped like a vast crescent moon. Beyond the strip of white sand the shoreline was covered with shiny pebbles smoothed by the sea. Behind the beach, rising almost vertically, loomed a wall of craggy cliffs, on top of which stood the lighthouse, dark and solitary." (58)
The book ends rather too lightly after the intensity that precedes it, leaving the reader feeling a bit cheated. It’s almost, though not quite, a happy ending, which doesn’t fit the darkness of the book, but that’s a minor flaw in a book so beautifully written and with so many poetic details that go well beyond the engaging plot. Max’s first glimpse of the ocean, for example:
"Max found himself gazing at an endless expanse of ethereal light, the electric blue of the sea shimmering beneath the midday sun, imprinting itself on his retina like a supernational apparition. The ashen light that perpetually drowned the old city already seemed like a distant memory. He felt as if he had spent his entire life looking at the world through a black and white lens and suddenly it sprung into life, in full, luminous colour he could almost touch." (7)
Other characters like Max’s quirky inventor father, his lovelorn older sister, or Roland’s grandfather Victor Kray are well drawn, leaving the reader wanting far more. The Prince of Mist is a fast-paced book that can be read in a few hours, but which will stay with the reader far longer. Younger readers might be disturbed by the evil clown or the ultimate denouement. Older readers and adults will, however, enjoy every moment of this heady, complex story that combines gothic horror with detective mystery, psychological complexity, a touch of romance, and deep linguistic richness.