Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s final young adult novel is beautifully written and darkly captivating. Its onlydisappointing feature is the unfairly long time it took to be released in the US—it was originally published in Spanish in 1999. Oscar Drai, the lonely 15-year-old protagonist, wanders through parts of 1980 Barcelona that remain locked away ina frozen, post-war Spain. It’s in these anachronistic wanderings that he meets Marina, an equally lonely girl with whom he follows a mysterious woman from a graveyard to an abandoned greenhouse suffused with the stench of death. This act drags them into a web of all-too-real stories from the same era as their wanderings, and from which they are soon unable to disentangle themselves, as their investigations grow steadily more disturbing and dangerous. However, all the intrigue, suspense, and horror of their encounters with reanimated prosthetic limbs, faces ravaged by acid, and the ubiquitous black butterfly become simply a distractionfrom the devastatingly poignant ending. This novel defies categorization, seamlessly blending mystery, adventure, and suspense with a touch of the supernatural and a dash of romance. All of this is woven together in an incredible gothic story with achingly beautiful language and plot twists that keep the reader breathless and glued to the text until the final page.
Warning: I gasped and shouted audibly in public while reading this book. It’s that good.