The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

midnightpalace_packshot2Omgee she is a crazy Zafón fan, you may say and I won’t blame you, because this is the fifth book of his I’m reviewing this year… and there is two more to come! As I’ve mentioned in my review of The Prince of Mist, Zafón wrote his young adult fiction novels long before he achieve international success with his adult fiction series. It was only after this, that his YA fiction books were also translated into English. This one, The Midnight Palace, is the second YA fiction book.

One thing I particularly like about his books is his ability to transport the reader into another world, with the way he describes his settings. This time the story plays off in the dark corners of 1916 and 1932 Calcutta, India. The story starts with a lieutenant called Peake who sacrifices his life by saving twins babies from an evil man who wants to kill them. He delivers the babies to their grandmother, who he believes might be able to keep them safe. The only way she knows how to do this is to separate them and hide them, which she does when she keeps the girl, Sheere with her and abandons Ben at St Patrick’s orphanage.  She gives Thomas Carter, the man who runs the orphanage strict instructions to keep him off the records and not to reveal his existence to anyone outside the orphanage. That same evening when Ben was delivered to the orphanage, a strange man came to enquire about the baby…

This man, only known as Jawahal, is an evil and menacing man, who had a grudge against the twins’ father that died in a horrific accident that also claimed the life of over 300 orphans.  Jawahal had something to do with this of course and often times Ben had nightmares and visions of a ghost train and heard the ghostly screams of children – I liked how he described it, because it definitely delivered the effect he wanted, which is chilling and scary.

When you turn 16, you are a legal adult and must leave the orphanage. Ben, along with his friends, decides to celebrate their last evening together at The Midnight palace – an old abandoned house where they would have their secret society meetings. On this very evening, the grandmother, Aryami Bose, returns to the orphanage with Sheere to warn Carter about this man who are coming for Ben. This is also the day when Sheere and Ben are reunited and feels an instant connection to each other, but only learns their true connection later on when the grandmother tells them their history. Ben and Sheere, along with the rest of the secret society need to fight off this evil.  The suspense in this novel is palpable and the teen in me just loved the ending of the story – a bunch of teenagers fighting off evil and winning the struggle, yet not without strange coincidences and scary scenes. I mentioned in my review of The Prince of Mist that even though I found it scarier, I thought his second young adult fiction was better, and this is it.

My reviews on his adult fiction:

The Shadow of the Wind | The Angel’s Game | The Prisoner of Heaven

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  • I don’t often have time to read young adult books as well as everything else, but Zafon would certainly be one of the authors I would choose. Sadly, I’ve left my teens far behind

    • I don’t read YA either, but I started reading his YA because I needed some Zafon in my life (while waiting for the 3rd installment of Cemetry of Forgotten books). I must say that I did enjoy his, and I might consider reading some more YA. I think you will enjoy this, but keep an open mind not to compare it to his adult fiction, it’s not as sophisticated…

      • It’s important for a writer to read widely in all genre so I’ll make a note based on your good review. My list’s getting longer by the hour!

        • Don’t worry, I am well aware that I will never be able to read everything on my own list, but I just added a few more books. The curse of the reader! 🙂

  • Oooh I have this but haven’t read it yet, oddly because I love all of his other work. I will have to get around to reading it!

    • I hope you do and that you will enjoy this read! I am a huge fan of his adult fiction and although this is not the same, it’s just as enjoyable. The teen in me loves these books!

  • I need to read his yA ones!

  • Sounds good- was it a quick read?

    • Yeah, it was 300 pages I think. The Prince of Mist was slightly shorter with 218 pages (but that’s the one with the clown that you are scared to read!) Just don’t compare them to Shadow or expect something similar 🙂

  • Oooooh another Zafon to check out!

    • Yes, another! 🙂 Do try this or The Prince of Mist one lazy afternoon, we all need to read some YA once in a while (and I know you do read them, just saying…)

  • Isi

    I don’t read so many YA books, but I think I will choose one by Zafón for the next time; I also like the good teen ones fighting against the evil!! And everything without vampires!! 😀

    • I don’t read YA as well, too many of them are about vampires! 🙂 But I will read Zafon’s YA, because it’s good (or atleast the 2 I’ve reviewed so far)

  • Where in the world have I been????? I had NO IDEA he wrote YA! Thanks for the review!

    • Yes, he wrote YA before he wrote his adult fiction! I wrote a review on his first YA fiction book and you commented on that. You should totally try out his YA and see if you like it 🙂

  • Maybe I should try this one! I haven’t been able to get into Zafon before now, but I’ve only tried one of his adult novels. I want to like him, but just can’t get into Shadow.

    • Oh no. I really love Shadow, it’s one of my favourites. Maybe you will like his YA more.

  • I didn’t find this novel as mysterious or even as thrilling as his other novels I read but with all this said, I can see how this could be mysterious/thrilling for a young adult. I did enjoy The Midnight Palace I have to admit but it is not one of those books I would want to read again anytime soon…

    • I didn’t compare this one to his adult fiction and tried to keep an open mind. I found parts of this thrilling, but I think The Prince of Mist was a lot scarier than this one. I agree, it’s not a re-read for me.

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