Saturday 27 April 2013

The Watcher In The Shadows

The Watcher In The Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Text Publishing)
HB RRP $16.99
ISBN 978-192192252-7
ISBN for eBook 9781921961670
Reviewed by Wendy Fitzgerald

If you are over 13 years old and you like reading ghost stories laced with horror, mystery, romance and suspense I think you will like The Watcher in the Shadows by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

In the beginning of this story Simone Sauvelle’s husband dies and she soon discovers her family has been left in major debt. It is winter in Paris in 1937. Simone needs to find a way to support her daughter Irene (age 14) and her younger son, Dorian.

Good fortune comes to them when Simone is offered a job in Blue Bay, a small village on the coast of Normandy in France.  A wealthy inventor and toy manufacturer named Lazarus Jann needs a housekeeper to help take care of his run-down mansion set in the eerie forest of Cravenmoore.

Using descriptive language Zafón cleverly introduces Blue Bay as a tranquil idyllic setting. We see the family settle into their new home called Seaview which is a modest house perched on the tip of a cliff overlooking the ocean.

Happily they have left their problems behind in cold old Paris. In Blue Bay we meet a friendly, chatty young girl called Hannah. We watch Irene fall in love with Hannah’s cousin, Ismael.  Dorian is happy sketching maps. Simone enjoys the work and is gets on well with her new boss, Lazarus.

But, as Lazarus warns, ‘The image of reality we perceive with our eyes is only an illusion, an optical effect.’  The mood of the story soon changes as we begin to discover the murky secrets that surround Lazarus and Cravenmoore.

Zafón takes us on a romp through dark shadows with sinister mechanical automatons, strange lights, deep secrets and fierce battles against dangerous creatures.

I was swept along, left trembling and totally hooked by this fantastical, magical adventure.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón draws on the tradition of suspense and gothic fiction. You might like to read more of his books- The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, The Midnight Palace or The Prince of Mist.  

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