Synopsis from Goodreads.
A mysterious house harbors an unimaginable secret. . . .
It’s wartime, and the Carver family decides to leave the capital where they live and move to a small coastal village where they’ve recently bought a home. But from the minute they cross the threshold, strange things begin to happen. In that mysterious house there still lurks the spirit of Jacob, the previous owners’ son, who died by drowning.
With the help of their new friend Roland, Max and Alicia Carver begin to explore the suspicious circumstances of that death and discover the existence of a mysterious being called The Prince of Mist—a diabolical character who has returned from the shadows to collect on a debt from the past. Soon the three friends find themselves caught up in an adventure of sunken ships and an enchanted stone garden, which will change their lives forever.
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Um… so no one thought to ring the police or tell any grown-ups what just happened? We’re just going to look back on it as if it was just a crazy summer mad-cap adventure? Um…
Max. I’ve been acquainted with a lot of Maxs recently and I have to say… it’s a good name. Beach houses. Roland. Alicia. Cats in wardrobes. Genuinely creepy. Beautiful writing, seriously this book was cinematic.
“Sunbeams filtered through the water in veils of nebulous light that swayed gently with the motion of the waves and the surface was transformed into an opaque dancing mirror.”
I took down so many quotes from this book, it was gorgeous. The sea. Statues. Family mysteries. Old film projections. Creepy history. The prince of mist.
I won’t go on about this too much because there are spoilers poised ready to explode like a particularly vicious game of Minesweeper.
But… well, when you finish a book with about fifteen questions (no joke, I have them written down in front of me) that you want to ask so you understand it… well, it’s not good.
There was so much that didn’t get explained and the story was so great and so different and mysterious and intriguing and everything. This book needed a good 150 pages more to really get into the story and do Mr Zafon’s ideas justice.
Because, I’m sorry to say, there were so many gaps in the plot.
Also… I’m 87% sure there would have been a massive investigation into what happened in the last 30 or so pages. I mean… it’s kind of a big deal.
And it wasn’t as if it was subtle.
OK Max, you had the right idea in this book. You were extremely aware that you weren’t getting the whole story and you stood up for yourself when you thought you were getting short changed.
We had that in common… I mean, we’ve finished the book now and I still have questions.
Lots of them.
But ignoring that, I really liked you. I liked that you loved films and that you were a great little brother and that you were a bit disgruntled with being third wheel.
I also liked that you didn’t freak out and go catatonic when all the mental stuff happened in the end.
Because that’s what I would have done and the book would have been extremely boring if I had been the heroine.
I also liked that you got out of breath when you rode your bike up the hill.
Because that is me.
So if we were to be friends, and I hope we will be, we could just maybe go for a leisurely walk. Maybe even up a slight incline if we’re feeling a bit adventurous.
Not really anything to do with this book but, well, I really hate clowns.
Also, I had no idea what other song I could use for this book.
Also (x2) I love The Kinks.
Scaredy Cat Level.
Off the chart.
I know a lot of people will be like ‘Um, Jo, it’s 200 pages long and it’s about circus performers and sunken ships and beaches… how can you be creeped out by this book?”
Well, my friends, I’ll tell you.
Gather round, grab a brew, pull up a pew and I’ll tell you a story about Jack A Nory.
Um, actually… I won’t.
I don’t mean to mislead you… this story will be why this book really freaked me out.
STORY TIME (which, when I’ve reached my eventual point, may contain a smidgeon of a spoiler)
For as long as I can remember I’ve had an irrational fear of ships… big ships. Especially when they’re out of water (You should see me when I watch the Titanic…:-|).
Coming from a city and avoiding the Manchester Ship Canal like the plague, my fear was manageable. I could quite happily avoid seeing them.
That was until I went to university.
You may or may not know that I went studied in Bangor, North Wales. It’s a lovely university in a ‘city’ (because it has a cathedral and a university… that’s it) that is famous for having the second longest pier in Wales and producing Aled Jones.
Yes… that Aled Jones.
The university is known for famous alumni such as Helen Fielding (also, apparently, Bridget Jones herself) and Danny Boyle (We had the same lecturer… so technically I’m going to win an Oscar… right?).
And it can boast some fantastic honorary fellows such as Richard Attenborough, Rhys Ifans, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Philip Pullman (been in the same room as him twice and yes, fangirled myself out) and… and Carol Vorderman.
It is also known for fantastic degrees in psychology and marine biology due to its location and the close proximity it has to the Menai Straits. (I did English with Film Studies because I like to be different, obviously… also science and I fell out when I was 17.).
But anyway, getting to the point, at least 75% of my closest friends take/took marine biology and a lot of their course is practical.
So they like to dive, in lovely exotic places like Egypt and just off Puffin Island.
And they like to take pictures.
Of huge ships… underwater.
And my Facebook feed is inundated with them when they come back from a dive.
And it’s pretty much my worst nightmare.
Also, on the train journey from Chester to Bangor (I’d say around Flint or Rhyl, if you know the area) there is this mahuuuusive beached ship that you can see from the train. I always ask my friend to tell me when I can look out of the window again but, because she’s sadistic and cruel, she always says ‘Oh… you can look out now’ and I do and BOOM.
There’s a ghost ship in my eye line.
I’m not a fan of big ships.
But surely I don’t need to explain that do I? I mean… you have eyes right?
So when they’re all swimming around in the hull of a possessed sunken ship with a clown who can seemingly hold his breath longer than Mr Threepwood… yeah.
I wasn’t pleased, I’ll tell you.
Normal people Most people will think that isn’t scary at all… but I’m not normal most people.
People who love beautiful, atmospheric writing. People who don’t mind
a lot of some unanswered questions. People who don’t look at statutes and immediately think “Oh my god, is that going to come alive when I turn my back?”. People who aren’t afraid of boats/clowns/clocks. People who aren’t scared of that Dr Who episode (Blink, is it?) that I haven’t seen but my friend told me about… urgh. People who are quite happy to paddle in the sea as opposed to diving amongst ship wrecks on their jollies.
This book was sent to me as part of a book tour with the brilliant and lovely UK Book Tours.