Title: The Prince of Mist
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Translator: Lucia Graves
Narrator: Jonathan Davis
ISBN: 9781607883722
CD/Discs: 5 CDs, about 5 hours
Pages: 214 pages
Publisher/Date: Little, Brown, and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. c2010. (Original copyright 1993)

Just then, something made him turn around and look again at the blackened face of the ancient station clock. He examined it carefully. Something about it didn’t add up. Max remembered perfectly well that when they reached the station the clock had said half past midday. Now, the hands pointed at ten minutes to twelve.
“Max!” his father called from the van. “We’re leaving!”
“Coming,” Max said to himself, his eyes still riveted to the clock.
The clock was not slow; it worked perfectly but with one peculiarity: It went backward. (13)

Max Carver moves to a beach house with his parents and two sisters, Irina and Alicia, in an effort to escape from the war. Immediately upon their arrival, strange things begin happening, including moving statues, the appearance of a cat, and Irina’s sudden injury landing her in the hospital. Tales of the drowning death of the previous owners’ son led Max to believe that the ghost might be haunted. Meeting up with a local teen named Roland, they begin to suspect that a mysterious magician called the Prince of the Mist might not have reached the watery grave with the sunken ship like Roland’s grandfather believed. Has the Prince of the Mist returned to finish what he started so long ago?

Jonathan Davis narration is simply seductive! Readers are pulled into this realm of intrigue and secrets, emphasizing the mysterious while slowly building suspense. I’ll be honest, I probably could have fallen in love with Alicia with how she’s described, and by her brother! YIKES! While Roland’s and Alicia’s budding romance is still safe for younger teens, Davis’ voice makes you feel like you’re intimately involved in this relationship.

On the shore, about twenty meters from where Max was standing, Alicia was lying on the sand. Leaning over her was Roland, his fingertips slowly caressing the pale skin of her belly. He drew closer to Alicia and kissed her on the lips. Alicia rolled onto her side then climbed on top of Roland, her hands pinning his against the sand. On her lips was a smile Max had never seen before. […]
He could hear their laughter and see that Roland’s hands were moving shyly over Alicia’s body. Exploring. From the way his hands were shaking, Max deduced that this was, if not the first time, then at most the second time Roland had found himself in such a momentous situation. He wondered whether it was also the first time for Alicia. (135-136)

It helps that the narration is supported by overly dramatic music that you can’t avoid but be influenced by while listening. The clash of thunder and the splatter of rain brings to mind the immortal words “It was a dark and stormy night.” Yes at times it is corny and overdone, but it’s like the Jaws theme: it resonates in your core and you can’t help but be swept away by it.

This would make a great Halloween read or listen, as Carlos Ruiz Zafon takes us back in time and describes not only the immediate threat that Max, Alicia, and Roland have to face, but also Roland’s uncle’s first encounter with the Prince of Mist. The suspense is palatable, and the slow build-up is just right for this book, although I think the conclusion is a little obvious. My only complaint is that I wish Irina had a bigger role. It seems like her sole purpose was to get injured and force the parents out of the house, therefore allowing Max and Alicia to wander unsupervised. Otherwise, I think the narrator really enhanced the story, and I don’t think I would have been as engaged in the reading with the book alone.