cover image Marina


Carlos Ruiz Zafón, trans. from the Spanish by Lucia Graves. Little, Brown, $19 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-04471-4

In a novel first published in Spain in 1999, Zafón (The Midnight Palace) transports readers to 1979 Barcelona, where 15-year-old Oscar Drai lives a dreary boarding school life. That’s until he meets a girl named Marina, who takes him to an old cemetery where a cloaked woman conducts an odd ritual over a nameless grave. Soon they uncover a twisted tale of hereditary disease, murder, and horrible experiments, all of which took place years ago and whose central figures are dead. Or are they? Zafón is a master of both the subtle simile (“A strange sound throbbed in the darkness. A metallic murmur, like the sound of a venetian blind quivering”) and the outrageous image: “The light filtering down from above revealed the face of a harlequin. Two diamond shapes covered its glassy eyes, and steel fangs protruded from its lips of polished wood.” On a rational level, the tale, like many Gothic thrillers, is preposterous, but readers are never given time to think rationally. Unlikely discoveries in mysterious, half- ruined mansions alternate with spine- tingling action sequences to create a grotesquerie that will delight horror fans. Ages 12–up. (July)