The 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: