Thursday 19 February 2015

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts...
His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

Marina is the fourth and last of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels for Young Adults and was written in 1997. Marina is translated to English by Lucia Graves and was published in paperback by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK on 12 February 2015.

The Shadow of the Wind trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a huge favourite of mine, my beautiful hardback copies take pride of place on my bookshelf and I was delighted to find that Marina is set in the familiar surroundings of Barcelona.

Fifteen-year-old Oscar is a boarder at a school in Barcelona and enjoys his illicit wanderings through the beautiful city, He loves to discover the winding side streets, the small parks, the beautiful buildings. One day Oscar happens upon a house he has not seen before, and it is there that he meets Marina. Marina and her German father live a strange and solitary life in their almost derelict, but fascinating house. Oscar is bewitched by them, and by Marina especially.

When Oscar and Marina follow a mysterious woman from the nearby cemetery, they have no idea what they are letting themselves in for. This is just the beginning of their journey.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a master of gothic creepiness which touches on horror. He can create places and scenes that leap from the page and engulf the reader. His descriptions of Barcelona and it's inhabitants are wonderful, and coupled with a tense and exciting storyline, this really is the perfect read.

Marina is a graceful, suspenseful, characterful story that will thrill existing fans and tempt new ones.

My thanks to Leanne at Orion who sent my copy for review.

Carlos Ruiz Zaf?n is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, and The Angel's Game. 

His work has been published in more than forty different languages, and honoured with numerous international awards. 

He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.

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