The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Atmospheric supernatural thriller featuring a group of orphans in Calcutta in 1916. One for both adult and teen fans of this author and for anyone who loves a nineteenth-century-style ghost story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: June 2011
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444001671

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Calcutta, 1916. Lieutenant Peake sacrifices his life to save two twin babies from a terrifying and murderous demon.

Sixteen years later, the separated twins meet again. Sheere has spent her childhood moving from place to place with her grandmother - never staying still, always hypervigilant. Ben has lived in a Calcutta orphanage and has a band of friends - the Chowbar Society - who are all about to be released from care to make their way in the world. But the demon hasn't forgotten them - he has been waiting for this very moment to make a second attempt on their lives. Can a group of Calcutta orphans vanquish a dark magician with power over the elements?

The Midnight Palace is getting one of those double releases in adult and YA editions and I guess you could call it a crossover book, but I think it's predominantly for older teens and adult fans of Zafon's work. It's a tremendously atmospheric supernatural thriller and will particularly appeal to those who like a good ghost story told in nineteenth century style by a protagonist narrator looking back years later. It's about the strength of the ties formed between families and friends, about love, about grief, about heroism and about elemental evil. It's got everything from creepy old houses to runaway trains and pyromaniac demons.

The classical, slightly reserved, style combined with lots of gore and genuine menace, will make it something for perhaps the older and more bookish children - but these will absolutely love it.

My thanks to the good people at Orion for sending the book.

They might also enjoy City of Ghosts by Bali Rai, an equally unusual blend of historical fiction and fantasy, centring on the Amritsar massacre of 1919. If they're interested in historical fiction about India, they could also look at Anila's Journey by Mary Finn. For more crossover historical fiction with a good dollop of horror included, I'd recommend Dark Matter by Michelle Paver.

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