cover image The Prince of Mist

The Prince of Mist

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, . . Little, Brown, $17.99 (214pp) ISBN 978-0-316-04477-6

Originally published in 1993, Ruiz Zafón’s (The Shadow of the Wind ) first novel, unavailable in English in the U.S. until now, is a melancholy horror tale that explores the implications parents’ choices can have for their children. During WWII, Max and Alicia Carver, 13 and 15, move with their family to a coastal Spanish village and meet an older local boy named Roland. As the three spend their time diving and exploring the town, they become aware that an unsettling force is lurking nearby. Visits to Roland’s adoptive grandfather fill in the story of the Prince of Mist, who has been bargaining for souls for decades. As the children learn more about the mysterious figure, they find themselves in greater danger. In gorgeously translated prose, Ruiz Zafón maintains a sweet, believable relationship among the characters when dealing with mundane concerns (a conflict over cleaning out a room full of spiders could be taken from any contemporary family film), but still conveys a sense of adventure and danger. The bittersweet ending suits the theme and setting, offering both hope and tragedy without any pretense of fairness. Ages 12–up. (May)