The Prisoner of Heaven

This historial fantasy (278 pages) was published in July of 2012 by Harper. The book takes you to 1950s Spain. Melissa read The Prisoner of Heaven and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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The Prisoner of Heaven

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (translator)

It’s a time of celebration in Barcelona. Christmas is coming. The War, over for a dozen years, is fading into a thing that happened once. Newlyweds Daniel and Bea have a bouncing baby boy, and their dear friend will soon be married. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Barcelona of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s imagination, there’s always room for intrigue in the shadows that play between the shafts of light in people’s lives.

On an otherwise uneventful day at the family-owned bookshop, a mysterious stranger appears and requests the rare copy of The Count of Monte Cristo that sits in a display case behind the counter. He writes a cryptic inscription on the title page: For Fermín Romero de Torres, who came back from among the dead and holds the key to the future.

These words send Daniel and his dear friend Fermín on a quest for a perilous truth that could upend all of their lives. Their investigation takes through the Gothic Barcelona of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s imagination, to the 1940s and the early days of the fascist Franco dictatorship — and closer to learning a heart-piercing secret.

Told through Daniel’s earnest narration with flashbacks to the past, this is a suspenseful romp through the cobbled alleys and treacherous history of mid-century Barcelona. It’s a twisting narrative of dangerous passion, revenge, true love, literature, and the power of secrets to protect and imperil us.

The Prisoner of Heaven is part of the thoroughly engrossing Cemetery of the Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The author has said that he wrote this cycle of novels to create a literary labyrinth that we’re invited to enter at any point. Read our reviews of The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Labyrinth of the Spirits.

When I saw my friend kissing the woman he loved it occurred to me that this moment, this instant stolen from time and from God, was worth all the days of misery that had brought us to this place and the many others that were doubtless waiting for us on our return to life. And that everything that was decent and clean and pure in this world and everything for which it was worth living and breathing was in those lips, in those hands and in the look of that fortunate couple who, I know, would be together for the rest of their lives. — Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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For readers, the book-lined shelves of libraries and archives are a dreamy backdrop for stories that resonate. These novels and nonfiction titles explore the drama, adventure, and history of our favorite bookish places.
In this ep, we discuss the magic of libraries and recommend library-centric books we love, including book-nerd-approved nonfiction, a lyrical literary cycle, a historical novel, and a joyous tale of a secret library.

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