At the beginning, Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon — already a cult favorite in the author’s native Spain — felt like something akin to a Neil Gaiman story. But as the story unfolded, Marina turned dark, sinister, and truly terrifying.
In May 1980, fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his barding school in Barcelona. For seven days and seven nights no one knows his whereabouts…
His story begins in an old quarter of the city, where he meets the strange Marina and her father, Germán Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the last Sunday of each month. At exactly ten o’clock in the morning, a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman, her face shrouded be a black velvet cloak. Holding a single rose, she walks to a gravestone that bears no name, only a mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.
When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that transports them to a forgotten, postwar Barcelona–a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons–and reveals a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.
It’s been a long time since a book had me this on-edge. In fact, I often stayed up too-late reading Marina not necessarily because I had to know what happened next … but because what I’d just read was so horrifying, I couldn’t possibly have closed the book and gone to sleep. I had to read on to find some lightness between so much horror, just to be able to switch off the bedside lamp!
Zafon is already a master storyteller, and his skills shine through as the story of Marina unfolds. Because as the mystery behind the horror story unfolds … a quieter, much more human saga also plays out. One about sickness and mortality and loss and love. It’s this element that is really the heart of the story.
Marina is in stores July 22nd.