The Prisoner of Heaven

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Short Take:

This third entry in Zafon’s cycle about writers and books, set in a magical Barcelona, is far gentler and more straightforward than The Angel’s Game. Best of all the loquacious and highly entertaining Fermín takes a center role. As always, the writing is exceptional and the atmosphere moody.


The Angel’s Game was so dark and complex it left a lot of readers scratching their heads. This volume is much closer in style and tone to the first book in this cycle, The Shadow of the Wind.  That is good news indeed.

Though set in the late 1950s, a great portion of the book is a reminiscence of things that take place almost a decade earlier. It’s Fermín’s story and, as far as I’m concerned, anything that centers on this brilliantly humorous man is quite enjoyable.

Characters from both previous books appear, and others are mentioned in passing. A note at the beginning of the book claims each novel is meant to be a stand alone story, however, I would not recommend reading this one without reading Shadow first. You’ll simply enjoy this story so much more if you do, plus you’ll get all the joy that comes with reading that previous book. The Angel’s Game, however, is not as necessary in my opinion.

A Little Plot:

Sempere and Sons Bookstore needs to punch up it’s Christmas business. While Papa Sempere goes in search of seasonal window dressings, a dark and forbidding man enters the store, buys a very expensive edition of The Count of Monte Christo, and writes a dedication in it, leaving the book at the store for Fermín, who works there. Daniel, the son in the store’s name, is both curious and concerned. He follows the man but learns little.

When Fermín finally sees the book, he goes white. Eventually he tells Daniel the story of his years in prison and the mysterious Prisoner of Heaven who changed his life — and who will still have an impact on both him and Daniel.

For more more on Zafon and his works, visit his website by clicking here.

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