I started writing this review last week, when I was about half-way through the 19-hour audiobook. At the time, I was so engrossed in the power of the audio version that I couldn’t imagine that reading the words on paper (the old-fashioned way!) would create the same experience for me. Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s story is captivating—a 10-year-old boy becomes the caretaker of an almost-forgotten book, a book that transports him when he reads it and endangers him when he tries to find out more about its author.
But just as important, Jonathan Davis’ reading of the work is, in a word, perfect. Each character comes to life with a different accent or pitch or rhythm, making me feel as if I’m actually meeting them or watching them on-screen. Zafón gives many of them idiosyncratic phrases, and Davis interprets these with humor and charm. I’m not sure I would have noticed them were I simply reading them on my own.
The translation, too, is artful. The story is set in Spain, and that setting affects how the characters relate to each other. Yet Lucia Graves manages to convey the emotions and meanings in English while maintaining the Spanish flavor and charm. Curious Villager also gives a “shout out” to Graves in her April 18, 2009, review of the book.
This book is so well-written, so well-translated, and so well-read, that a week ago I was wishing it wouldn’t end! But I have to confess that tonight, as I began the last section, I was starting to feel impatient. The story drags on just a little bit too long, I think, with just a little too much tragedy. I’m ready for some closure, and I’m hoping the last 90 minutes restore the wonder and anticipation I was feeling at the very beginning and throughout most of the story.
I’ll let you know how it ends for me! In the meantime, you can read other enthusiastic reviews and a more thorough synopsis at Amazon.com, but for the cheapest audiobook download price you may want to use iTunes.