Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The Midnight Palace Review
Book talk: Ghosts stories tend to gather in areas filled with sadness and Calcutta has known more than its fair share of misery. Perhaps that is why there are so many tales of the supernatural associated with the town. Siraj knows all of them. He often researches them for the other members of the Chowbar society: Isobel the fearless actress, Roshan who grew on the harsh streets, Michael the quiet artist, Seth the scholar, Ben the mercurial leader of the group, and Ian the one destined to escape and tell the tale. The group is bound together by misery, all residents of the local orphanage, and in the absence of family they swore to protect each other. But they never imagined how much those loyalties would be tested or that one of Siraj's ghost stories would came to life and stalk them.
Rocks my socks: I'm always fascinated by stories about close groups of friends. The relationships between the various members of the Chowbar Society interested me far more than the supernatural elements. Zafon, as always, has a wonderful way with words and does an excellent job creating a spooky atmosphere and establishing a good sense of place. The characters are each fascinating on their own as well, and I became deeply involved in their stories. I appreciated how diverse the group was in many ways from personality to ethnicity, and it makes sense for a story set in Calcutta where so many cultures have converged.
Rocks in my socks: My timing in reading this novel was not great. I didn't realize when I picked this book up it was by the same person as The Shadow of the Wind, which I read recently. I was quickly caught up by the story, but I was plagued by a sense of deja vu. Zafon has a very distinct style and uses similar themes in both stories. I could see where this book was headed from a mile away.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to fans of Raven Boys or general fans of supernatural tales and books about group dynamics among friends. The horror elements are rather strong at points, I'd save it for at least 7th grade and up.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon has a website with a page for the book.
There's an atmospheric book trailer from the publisher:
Source: school library
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: buy it or check it out today!