The Prince of Mist is a YA horror novel written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.
It's 1943 and the Carver family decide to move away from the dangers of the war in the city to a small, coastal town. They move into a beautiful, if dirty, home and immediately get to cleaning it - trying their best to make it their home.
Max isn't very happy about leaving his friends, but he saw how much his father felt he needed to move them all. But what his father didn't tell Max and his siblings right away is that this house has seen dark times. A young boy drowned and left his parents' shells of their former selves...
Curious and feeling like there is more to the story, Max begins to explore the grounds. He meets a boy named Roland that lives in the lighthouse with his grandfather and they become friends. Alicia, Max's older sister, finally starts to talk to him again - and a comfortable friendship develops between the three.
But as they dig through secrets, they find out about a cruel, mysterious man nicknamed the Prince of Mist. He apparently died in a violent shipwreck right off the coast where the Carvers' live. And Max stumbles across a group of statues of carnival performers that appear to move in the corner of your eye.
All of these seemingly disconnected things turn into one memorable summer of terror for Max, Alicia, and Roland...
Ooooh, my synopsis might not give the spooky feeling it should - but trust me, The Prince of Mist is creepy!!!
Zafon writes The Prince of Mist with such a lyrical, delicately measured prose, giving the story an instant appeal and a deep sense of the moody, mature horror presentation.
And, oh my, the ominous statues are chilling (and some later found video is enough to make you squeal with nerves!). The backstory of the house and the Prince of Mist is convincingly disturbing and gives everything about the characters' environment a sense of fright. I enjoyed the patient, yet determinedly scary tone that The Prince of Mist offers.
The historical seaside setting adds personality to the story, and I found Max to be an excellent protagonist. He is investigative, but still believable - he is coming-of-age and full of wonder, and lacks that annoying bratty/jerky trait that an unfortunate amount of characters in YA have. He's great to follow and identify with.
The Prince of Mist ended up being astoundingly eerie, breathtakingly nightmarish, and kinda awesome actually. But as it reached its insanely climatic conclusion I got really, really, REALLY spooked. It puts you in that paranoid, creeped-out state of mind.
A highly satisfying, scary, intelligent and atmospheric horror novel - I definitely recommend The Prince of Mist. And I am looking forward to (perhaps nervously) Carlos Ruiz Zafon's next book The Midnight Palace!
*I received a review copy of The Prince of Mist from Hatchette Book Group. Their generosity in no way influenced, nor sought to influence, my opinion of the novel.