The Watcher in the Shadows: Carlos Ruiz Zafón book review

Author Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “The Watcher in the Shadows” is the third book for young adults to be translated into English (from his native Spanish), and it is as compelling and chilling as his other works.

Originally published in Spain, the story is set in a small village on the Normandy coast depicting the nightmarish events following a family’s move to the quiet seaside village.

Fourteen-year-old Irene moves to the fishing village of Blue Bay with her mother, Simone, and younger brother Dorian, from Paris in 1937 following her father’s death. Her mother takes the position of housekeeper for the reclusive toymaker, Lazarus Jann in his grand, if not rather sinister, mansion Cravenmoore. In exchange for Simone’s discretion in overlooking Jann’s eccentricities they are offered a peaceful life and picturesque home overlooking the sea. However, when there is an unexplained death connected to Cravenmoore, strange things start to happen to those who get close to Jann. Lights are seen shining from the abandoned lighthouse, claw marks and footprints appear in the woods, and the sinister feeling that you are being watched from the shadows.

This book has everything you could ask for from a good mystery; creepy toys, mansion with an out-of-bounds wing, a spooky forest, frightening newspaper clippings and worst of all, the dark shadows that dance around at night causing your imagination to run wild.

The story is spellbinding for readers of any age, and had me glued to the pages with terror and anticipation as to who was going to survive the summer, and desperate for an explanation, any explanation, as to who or what the Watcher in the Shadows really is.

I have just one piece of advice. If you do read The Watcher in the Shadows, or his other works for young adults (The Prince of Mist, The Midnight Palace), do not read it just before going to bed…

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