If you have already read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game, this book is a must read. If you haven’t read the others, you’ll want to go back and read them first. I wish I had re-read both before starting The Prisoner of Heaven as all three books are so closely linked together. Ruiz Zafon conjures a Barcelona full of mystery and intrigue with a nod to great literature. The Prisoner of Heaven is not quite as fast paced as the previous books, it delves into the past of the beloved Fermin Romero de Torres, with hints of much more to come.
Daniel Sempere and his beautiful wife Bea are enjoying their baby boy, Julian, but struggling to make ends meet. Under Franco’s strict rule, the Sempere and Sons bookstore has been in decline. Fermin is about to leave his notorious bachelor days behind him and marry his girlfriend Bernarda. A character from his closely guarded past threatens to ruin him. Unwilling to abandon his friend on the eve of his nuptials, Daniel joins Fermin in yet another adventure.
I can’t say that The Prisoner of Heaven was my favorite of Ruiz Zafon’s books, but it is essential reading for fans. I love Fermin Romero de Torres. He is an unforgettably singular character. There is never a yes or no answer from the man and it is a joy to hear him speak. For example, when being compared to a cockroach he responds:
Since you mention it, that’s an adroit comparison, if I may say so. For the cockroach may not have the swaggering good looks required by the frivolous norms of this daft society we’ve had the dubious fortune to live in, but both the underrated arthropod and yours truly are characterised by an unmatched instinct for survival, an overwhelming appetite and a leonine libido that won’t relent even under extreme radiation levels.
Fermin is the kind of character who can provide good cheer to all even under the most dire circumstances and I was glad to read his story and glimpse his future roll in the books. It will be tough to wait for the next one and the way this book ends, there better be another one!