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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Age Range: 14+
Fifteen-year-old boarding school student and narrator Oscar Drai discovers a semi-dilapidated villa on the outskirts of Barcelona. There he meets the beautiful but frail Marina and her enigmatic father Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to the hidden Sarria graveyard to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of every month.
A woman dressed in black, her face shrouded in a black veil, wearing gloves alights from a coach pulled by black horses. She is carrying a single red rose which she places on an unmarked gravestone with only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings to adorn it.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to a forgotten, post-war Barcelona where a dark secret lays waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.
Marina is a gothic tale for all ages from the best-selling author Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This was the last of Zafón’s young adult novels written in 1999, and out of them all, this one most clearly resembles elements that appeared later in his best-selling adult novel The Shadow of the Wind. This page-turning, gripping, suspenseful tale is full of intrigue; at times both chilling and somewhat gruesome in places, this gothic novel is certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Zafón’s skilful, flowing and elegant prose is conveyed to an English audience by the superb translation of Lucia Graves. His descriptive language of the architectural structures is so detailed and atmospheric that they draw you in to a bygone Barcelona.