Monday, March 3, 2014


By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Location: FIC ZAF
Genre: Gothic tale for all ages!

I have a new favourite author, it is the guy that wrote this book. OK- second favourite, it would take a lot to topple Chaim Potok, but I like them for the same reason. They craft words, play with words, make words powerful and so the story that comes from those words has depth and colour, emotion and power, wit and cunning. At times when I read Potok or Zafon, I lean back and purely delight in a sentence that has so much in it, yet is so simple.

Dale Harcombe from Goodreads reviews this book..
The cover of this book is enough of a reason to want to read it. I adored the cover. As to the book itself, it is hard to describe. Much of the writing is extremely beautiful. It feels like reading poetry as the writing is so rich in imagery. The depiction of Marina’s lips touching Oscar’s ear is described as ‘tingling on the nape of my neck, like a centipede dancing the bossa nova.’ Or this quote from Quim Salvat, who in earlier times had been a mentor to Marina’s artist father, ‘Beauty is a breath of air that blows against the wind of reality.’
I found myself agreeing with Marina’s father when he says’ ‘What sort of technology is this that can send a man to the moon but can’t put a piece of bread on every human being’s table?’ There are also light touches of humour as in when encountering a cat that stares at him with disdain, Oscar wishes he was a Doberman.
Along with the humour and the beautiful writing, there is also the macabre. But this is a gothic tale. Set in Barcelona in 1980 Oscar, a fifteen year school boy, finds himself drawn into the lives of the beautiful Marina, and her father. Oscar and Marina while trying to solve the mystery of the woman in black who places a single rose on a grave that bears no name, but only a black butterfly emblem, find themselves in a world of secrets. Some of the incidents and scenes are quite gruesome.
It also shows how power and knowledge that start with good intentions can become corrupted.
It is also a book filled with tales of love and sadness, as the love story of several sets of people are revealed. As I said, it is a book that is hard to classify. I loved it even though I found some of the more macabre scenes hard to read. With a vivid imagination, it’s not the sort of book I’d want to read before bedtime but it well worth reading.

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