Review: The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Original Publication Date: 1994, first translated in 2011 Genre: mystery, adventure, horroer Age Level: Young Adult Series: Niebla #2
Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Paranormal
Age Level: Young Adult
Series: Niebla #2

In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery. . . .

Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere’s sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night—and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.


I’m not entirely sure why this novel was marketed as part of a trilogy with The Prince of Mist and The Watcher in The Shadows which I’ve yet to read, because they don’t really have anything to do with each other apart from being creepy and dealing with otherworldly creatures. So don’t think you have to read them in order or even all three of them because they are standalone stories.

The Midnight Palace is set in India and the narrator’s love for his country is evident in the vibrant descriptions. What I found most interesting is the fact that the narrator is not the main or most important character in the story. This makes him a fairly reliable narrator; though the years blur details, he bore witness to the entire story. He is a humble and simple narrator, his presence is only apparent in the first person sections that punctuate the story at intervals. The rest is told in third person.

The characters are all extremely vibrant and it was with ease that I imagined the members of the Chowbar Society holding meeting in the Midnight Palace or exploring their city. I understood the bond of friendship binding the group and the uncertainty they felt towards entering the adult world. I felt the sweltering heat of the city and the chilly darkness of the abandoned train station.

The build up to the final reveal was nicely done though I was able to solve a few things early one. Still, the ending was pretty tense and I was glad to read it in one sitting. The villain is a pretty unusual one who forces you to question the grey area between good and evil.

In all, a solid, quick read. Recommended.


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