Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review | "Marina" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This week's review is over a book in one of my favorite genres, the gothic fiction/fantasy/magical realism. I first saw "Marina" in a bookstore in October, and after going home to do my research, I jumped at the chance to buy it on sale while visiting London this past February.
Here is the book's Goodreads description before I get further into my thoughts:

In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai vanishes from his boarding school in Barcelona. For seven days and nights, no one knows his whereabouts....

His story begins when he meets the mysterious Marina, the daughter of a reclusive painter. She takes him to a graveyard where they witness a macabre ritual. On the last Sunday of every month, a woman shrouded in black walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the emblem of a black butterfly.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that takes them to the heart of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona. Beneath the streets a dark secret lies waiting. 

As I mentioned, this is a gothic sort of tale (though it takes place in the 1980s not the gothic era). The exact genere blurs a little throughout the course of the book and I don't want to give away too many spoilers- especially because this book crafted its plot twists beautifully that truly makes not knowing what's coming next a big part of the experience.
Now, as much as I enjoyed this story, there were a few- rather minimal- things I'll bring to attention.
Oscar and Marina do quite a bit of inner city travelling, I understand that usually those costs can be minimal, but they do it often enough to make me wonder where they're getting the money. Marina's family is rather unwealthy at the time of the book, and Oscar mentions early on that he had to borrow money from a school friend.
The translations had some word repetition (specifically adjectives that were used over and over as descriptors).
The fantasy  elements are very complicated. There is a very specific design behind them that can only barely be mentioned in the short amount of time it's allotted for explanation in the book so it can be difficult to follow at times.
In the end, I'm very glad I had a chance to read this book, and if you like gothic stories, you'll enjoy this.

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