By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Rating: 3 Stars
Who Should Read This: Anyone who has read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game will enjoy this book that brings both of the previous books in the series together. This is also a book for anyone who is interested in historical fiction and mystery novels.
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Barcelona,1957. It is
Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate.
They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend
Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed
when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to
divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in the
city's dark past. His appearance plunges Fermín and Daniel into a
dangerous adventure that will take them back to the 1940's and the dark
early days of Franco's dictatorship. The terrifying events of that time
launch them on a journey fraught with jealousy, suspicion, vengeance,
and lies, a search for the truth that will put into peril everything
they love and ultimately transform their lives.
This book felt a little rushed. It is the third installment in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. The last two books I read in this series painted a beautiful picture of the story and had so much history and background to them. Some reviews said that if you hadn't read the first two books in the installment you would still be able to appreciate and enjoy this book, but I would definitely recommend reading the authors first two books before diving into this one. I think through the appreciation of the first two books he wrote, the reader will have a better understanding of the multiple stories being intertwined here.
With that being said, I did really like the way that the author was able to intertwine the last two books into this one. I always have a hard time when I finish a book that I absolutely love, and with this third book I felt like I was again reunited with the characters that I admire and appreciate. Fermin is still absolutely hilarious in an inappropriate, 'I can't believe he said that!' way. He does open up to Daniel as well, and really shows his vulnerability. Fermin's past is dark and dangerous and constantly catching up with him. When a stranger shows up at the bookstore one day, he ultimately starts a chain of events that leads to Fermin having to confide to Daniel his time in prison. From this conversation both Daniel and Fermin have to decide between right and wrong and vengeance versus forgiveness.
I think that the areas in which the book was lacking was its descriptiveness and the rushed feeling. One of the reasons I love this author so much is his skill in painting a picture of the characters surroundings and of Barcelona. He depicts it as this mysterious and Gothic place and in my mind it is absolutely beautiful. Perhaps it seemed as if there wasn't as much of this in the novel due to the fact that he sets up a picture of Barcelona in the first two books, so maybe I just missed that aspect. Secondly, I felt like we were racing to the finish line. I found myself trying to remember things from the past books that were important for this one, and felt like the book was slightly chunky due to the author racing to come to a good place to end the book.
I don't want to deter anyone from reading this book, because I truly love this author, I just really want to emphasis that anyone thinking of reading this should definitely start with his first book in the series, The Shadow of the Wind. I think that anyone who does will have a much better appreciation for this book as well.