The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

the watcher in the shadowsThe Watcher in the Shadows is Zafón’s third YA fiction book.  He 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. As you all may know by now, I’m a huge Zafón fan, particularly his adult fiction novels, but I think today I might surprise you with this one.

The story plays off in 1937. Irene Sauvelle is a 14 year old girl, who moves from Normandy to Paris with her mother and younger brother after the sudden death of her father.  Her mother, Simone, accepts a job from the mysterious toymaker, Lazarus Jann. She is to be housekeeper at his mansion called Cravenmoore and in return he offers her a place to stay.  Hannah, who is the cook at Cravenmoore makes friends with Irene and introduces Irene to her cousin, Ismael, who Irene later falls in love with. Outside in the forest, something dangerous and menacing is haunting the house…   Soon Irene and Ismael find themselves in danger when Hannah is found murdered in the forest.  Lazarus’ home is mysterious, filled with automatons he created himself, and personally I’ve pictured Lazarus as the mad scientist. He is weird and it’s evident that he is hiding something…. Especially when they start to investigate Hannah’s murder and the history of the house, because they felt that whatever is happening is because of what is in that house or Lazarus himself…

There is the old mansion, menace, fear, old newpapers clippings and letters  – all the elements to make this story interesting and  what I normally love in the novels that I read. Sadly, I must say although I cringed at some parts of the novel (because of the suspense… I love suspense), I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did The Prince of Mist and The Midnight Palace. Yes, I did enjoy Zafón’s writing as always, but at the end of the novel, I felt that I wanted more and some parts of the story was too far fetched. However, in all fairness, this is a young adult novel for ages 13 – 18 and surely I’m way past that! Therefore I think that it is a nice read for any teen that enjoys scary novels, and I think that adult readers would enjoy Simone’s character.

My reviews on his adult fiction:

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


Image source

  • I still have to wait a few months for my copy and still have to start this series. I am very curious!

    • You should start with the series, Ciska. I hope that you will enjoy the first two, I definitely did. You can check out my reviews for them 🙂

  • Yes I still need to read these

  • I enjoyed Shadow of the Wind- I might have to try out these YA novels of Zafron’s!

    • I hope you do, Katie! I am a huge fan of The Shadow of the Wind (it is actually a favourite). I hope you enjoy them when you decide to read it. I can honestly say, as an adult reader, that I did enjoy the first two.

  • Is this the book I technically read with you 🙂

    • Nope, you “read” Marina with me. That review is still to come 😉

  • Sorry to hear you din’t enjoy this as much as you had thought you would!

    • Yeah, it’s the first Zafon I didn’t like 🙁 But it wasn’t that bad, I just didn’t like certain parts of the novel, it’s still a nice read though…

  • You know I’m going to have to read this! 😀

  • You’ve mentioned this author before….I must read some of his books! 🙂

    • Yes! You should read his adult fiction first 🙂

  • I love his writing style, and I love YA. Is this book in a series?

    • It’s his third YA fiction, but I don’t think it’s a series per say. It’s all different stories and characters, not like the adult series where it all ties together.

  • Isi

    Is there any other book by Zafón that you haven’t read?? 😀
    I usually have the same feeling you have described when I read young adult: it’s entertaining, but…
    Anyway, I sometimes need this kind of entertainment.

    • I have officially read every single of his books that’s translated into English! 🙂 The only one left to review is Marina.
      I have started liking YA, but it’s not the genre I would normally pick up. I liked this one the least, but it was still ok.

  • Great review! I found myself thinking of the same thing while I was reading this book, that I would’ve really enjoyed this novel when I was growing up. It was still fun though 🙂

    • Thank you, Lianne. It definitely wasn’t bad…