I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.
It has been a long time since I read Zafón's wonderful SHADOW OF THE WIND. Although I bought the second book in the "trilogy," THE ANGEL'S GAME, I somehow never got around to reading it. I did not let that deter me from moving forward with THE PRISONER OF HEAVEN. All of these books stand along but there are common threads and characters that unite them.
In Barcelona in 1957, Daniel Sempere helps his father with their struggling bookstore while looking foward to the wedding of their friend and employee, Fermín Romero de Torres. When a mysterious stranger shows up at the shop who leaves a threatening message for Fermín, Daniel presses Fermín for his story and the meaning behind the stranger's visit. Fermín recounts the tale of his imprisonment in the 1940s that brings to mind THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO and shows how his life and Daniel's came to intersect. Secrets are revealed as the two men must decide what course their lives will take after long-hidden truths come to light.
As a fan of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO, I loved all the references and allusions to the famous work. This story is driven partly by relationships and partly by action/adventure which makes it very satisfying. There aren't many surprises in the story. It is pretty clear early on what direction the tale will take. That doesn't keep it from being a very entertaining read, however. My main complaint was that I didn't feel as if it was long enough. 318 pages felt too light for me. I wish Zafón had developed the story a bit more. It felt as if there were pieces missing. Still, I really enjoyed the story and hope that this isn't the end of the tale.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. Fans of Zafón's other works will find much to enjoy here. Plenty of intrigue and mystery with several sinister characters. I only wish it hadn't been so short.