Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Book Review: Marina

August 11, 2014 Book Review, reviews 3

Book Review: MarinaMarina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published by Hachette Book Group on September 26th, 2013
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Young Adult
Pages: 299
Source: purchased


Carlos Ruiz Zafon has been in my shortlist of favorites ever since I read Shadow of the Wind.  Ahhh, what an experience reading that book – I don’t believe I came up for breath, food nor water until the last line.  Zafon has such a gift of making his home of Barcelona sound so incredibly atmospheric.   Marina did not disappoint.

In the forward of Marina, Zafon explains that while this book was written before Shadow of the Wind, {published in Spain 1999} Marina is one of his favorites.  It is the story of Oscar Drai, a fifteen year old lad attending boarding school in Barcelona.  A chance meeting with the beautiful enigmatic Marina changes Oscar’s life forever and leads to his disappearance from his boarding school for seven days.  Marina is just a bit older than Oscar and lives with her father, Herman, in a crumbling mansion down a side alley.  Have you heard that saying “Curiosity killed the cat?” Well, Marina pulls Oscar into her curious-ness of a mysterious woman at a forgotten graveyard.  When they attempt to learn more about the woman in the black their lives and possible sanity are placed in danger.

Things I loved

  • There are so many elements included in Marina – is it a gothic horror? science-fiction? fantasy? young adult romance? Well, I’ll tell you – it’s a bit of all these and more, making Marina appealing to a wide audience.
  • There are no vampires. Whew!  Have I mentioned how much I dislike vampire novels?!?
  • The feeling of being immersed in the streets of Barcelona with its foggy, damp streets and hidden ancient cemeteries.
  • Listening to the audio.  Narrator Daniel Weyman had a wonderful accent lending credence to his characters.  The range of voices he used for the characters made each one come alive.
  • Although the novel takes place mostly in 1979 and 1980 there is a timelessness that pervades.
  • The creepiness and horror were enough to have me double and triple-checking the locks.  While scary for sure, it was more atmospheric scary, old black & white-movie-scary, Phantom of the Opera story-kind-of-horror . . .well, perhaps a bit more creepy than Phantom.

Things I didn’t like so much

  • I wanted to love the character Marina but she was never really fully developed.  Although the book is named after her and she plays a significant role, Marina as a character did not feel fully fleshed out.
  • The names of the locations got to be confusing but that’s probably because I don’t speak Spanish, I’m not familiar with locales in Spain and I was listening rather than reading {had I been reading it would have been easier to see that ‘oh yeah Oscar and Marina went here before.’

If you’re ready to get a jump-start on Fall and the creepy atmospheric Halloween-ish novels you can’t go too wrong with Marina, especially if you listen to the audio.   I swear I will never look at marionettes the same again!

As we get closer to the Fall and October do you find yourself seeking out more scary stories?