Enter the Spellbinding World of Spanish Author Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Enter the magical, gothic, and eerie world of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s fiction. Get ready for time travel and adventure, wrapped up in beautiful, powerful writing.
Captivating, touching, moving, page-turning prose is what you get in exchange for your time with these magical pieces. Get ready to decipher and enjoy Carlos Ruiz Zafón characters and plots, and don’t you dare blink an eye.
¡Saboreemos los libros de Carlos Ruiz Zafón!
Let’s savor Carlos Ruiz Zafón books!
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Biography and Writing Style
Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in 1964 in Barcelona to a housewife and an insurance salesman. He studied with the Jesuits and decided to work in the advertising industry, where he became the creative director of McCann WorldGroup. Carlos eventually left everything behind to dedicate his life to literature.
His first book won him an award, and he used the prize money to travel to Los Angeles, where he dreamt of living. In LA, he wrote scripts, screenplays, and novels and finished his first saga, The Fog Trilogy.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón won 16 literary prizes during his life and was a finalist for three. A famous Italian journal called him the Spanish Dickens. His style is hybrid, as he wrote tragedies, romance novels, satire, crime fiction, comedy, thriller, gothic novels, adventure literature, and many more… in the same book.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s work has permeated both popular and educated culture. He has gone a long way in his attempt to make people rethink the value of books and the soul of each one. In 2020, Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s death at 55 of cancer was a surprise to many. He is the most read Spanish author in the world after Cervantes.
See also: Hispanic Contributions to World Literature
7 Carlos Ruiz Zafón Books
I recommend reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón books in the order shown in this article. The Shadow of the Wind is the book that gained him international fame.
The Mist Trilogy – La trilogía de la niebla
This first trilogy by author Carlos Ruiz Zafón is meant to be for a young audience by the editorial house, not the author. After the Shadow of the Wind got immense international attention, all of Carlos’ books were marketed for all audiences and translated into many languages.
This gothic and fantasy literature piece combines mystery and suspense. The literary complexity of these books is moderate to high because the prose is highly adorned.
1. The Prince of Mist – El príncipe de la niebla
The Carvers fled the city to escape war. They get to the coast to a house where the spirit and memory of the dead son of the previous owner is tangible. As the Prince of Mist—a wish-granting figure—starts to appear, the strange circumstances of this boy’s death start to emerge.
The Hitchcock-esque story’s beautiful writing is cinematic. If you are strict about plot holes, this piece is not for you. This is a page turner and a quick creepy story that won the Edebé Award for Young and Children’s Literature in 1993. Carlos Ruiz Zafón has a way of creating eerie atmospheres so real that you might step into the Carvers’ haunted house without noticing.
2. The Midnight Palace – El palacio de la medianoche
In 1930 in Calcutta, an English lieutenant saved the newborn twins Sheere and Ben from a terrible danger that threatened their lives, but not without losing his. Sixteen years later that same danger came back to hunt them down. Their brave friends try to help them save their lives and face a terrible creature.
The beautiful prose can take your mind away from the deficiencies of the plot. After all, this is the early work of Carlos Ruiz Zafón and even if you don’t find them as exciting as the second saga—again, according to divided opinions— you will definitely understand where the Shadow of the Wind comes from.
Readers think this magical story where “seven friends bound together by circumstance battle a supernatural enemy against astronomical odds.”
3. September Lys – Las luces de septiembre
The story takes place in a small town on the Normandy coast called Blue Bay in 1937. The Sauvelle family moved to an estate when Simone, a mother and widow, accepted a job as a housekeeper there.
The owner is an inventor and maker of mysterious toys. They meet Hannah, the house cook, and her cousin Ismael who falls in love with Simone’s daughter and shows her the mysteries of the abandoned lighthouse. Their relationship and families are threatened by a vengeful shadow from the past. Beautiful storytelling with engaging character construction.
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series – El cementerio de los libros olvidados
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books saga are books about books and how there is a dying breed of humans who still defend them—the old ones, the first editions.
Many Hollywood producers offered Carlos Ruiz Zafón to take this series to the big screen, but he refused every time. He felt it was high treason to tell the story of books through cinema.
The series is set in Barcelona. After he finished publishing the four volumes of this saga. The literary complexity of this saga is high due to the adorned prose and structure with subplots.
4. The Shadow of the Wind – La sombra del viento
The New York Times compared Carlos Ruiz Zafón to Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges. The Shadow of the Wind was published in more than 50 countries and sold over 15 million copies. It gained major popularity in the U.S., Italy, UK, France, Germany, and Holland.
It is the third most read Hispanic novel after El Quijote and A Hundred Years of Solitude. Stephen King compared Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s work to that of Orson Welles and praised the author’s style.
5. The Angel’s Game – El juego del ángel
David Martin is a sensationalist novel writer who works under a pen name. He survived his early years by taking refuge in books and now he walks around an abandoned mansion in Barcelona. David is trying to create a creepy story while in that same house lie pictures and letters about the mysterious death of the owner before him.
What is fascinating here according to reviewers is that The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game are both set in Barcelona, but it feels like a completely different place and atmosphere due to the change of time period. Only to show the prose mastery of Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
6. The Prisoner of Heaven – El prisionero del cielo
This is the bridge where the Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game converge. Daniel Sampere has nothing but joy in his life. Until a stranger threatens to spread a dark secret that was buried for more than 20 years. This adventure will take him to Franco’s dictatorship in the 1940s and make him susceptible to vengeance and lies.
It puts together elements from the first two books and characters from the Shadow of the Wind. “Unputdownable” is how some describe it.
7. The Labyrinth of Spirits – El laberinto de los espíritus
In this riveting saga finale, Barcelona was bombed by fascists in 1938, and little Alicia lost her parents. The years go by and she tries to resolve one last case before she quits from her job as part of Madrid’s secret service.
One of the clues is inside the pages of a rare book from an imprisoned writer. Every step closer means dismantling a sequence of murders and kidnappings proper of Franco’s yoke. This historical fiction, romance novel, thriller, and mystery is the best way to wrap things up.
Learn Spanish Through the Books of Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Literature is a powerful tool when it comes to learning a new language. When you pick engaging material, you feel motivated and start reading for pleasure. And while doing that you will constantly be exposed to semantic and syntactic knowledge, writing styles, idioms, word contextualization, expressions, and both casual and formal language.
You will be able to internalize a foreign language and enrich your learning experience at the same time. This active method promotes that the learner does research and obtains a critical eye and leads you to eventually speak like a native.
Read and Speak Spanish Today
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