Guardian Review

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Guardian Review

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 
reviewed by Patrick Ness

Almost fatally, Zafón never properly defines The Prince of Mist's powers - an omnipotent and all-powerful villain is paradoxically less threatening than one who has to operate within rules - and the book's climax, in particular, doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny.

There's also a startlingly old-fashioned approach to the prose. The opening line - "Max would never forget that faraway summer when, almost by chance, he discovered magic" - is so musty, you want to wipe it with a damp cloth, and the nostalgia is always just on the wrong side of stodgy to ever feel quite timeless. Besides, who would this nostalgia be for? Children aren't necessarily going to care for pastiches of wartime children's literature. They're more likely to wonder if there really were home movie cameras back then portable enough for a seven-year-old to use (I'm guessing probably not).

Once The Prince of Mist gets moving, though, Zafón's real strength shines through: chills. There are some genuinely, deliciously scary sequences that will thrill young readers, particularly if they, like me, have a thing about clowns. And by "thing about", I mean "terrified hatred of". The unevenness here is probably that of a first-time novelist finding his feet, but there are treats enough for an enjoyable read. PATRICK NESS

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on August 28, 2010 9:20 AM.

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