The beautiful prose in MARINA is enough to suck any lover of words into Carlos Ruiz Zafón‘s latest. The setting of Barcelona in the 80s is another great hook. And then there’s the surrealism, the almost magically-real mystery. And the love story somewhat reminiscent of Alessandro D’Avenia’s WHITE LIKE MILK, RED LIKE BLOOD, or Rainbow Rowell’s ELEANOR & PARK. But, mostly, I think what makes MARINA a must-read (aside from, well, everything!) is the beautiful creep factor.
Oscar is pretty much an average dude at a boarding school in Barcelona. But he’s also a loner. And he mostly likes it that way. He’s taken to sneaking out, spending weekends exploring the city. And on one such exploration he inadvertently a) experiences something that his rational brain can’t explain and b) breaks into an old mansion that turns out to not be as abandoned as he thought. When he goes back to return the watch that he accidentally stole in a rush of panic, he meets Marina. And, together, Oscar and Marina begin to unravel the mystery that began with Oscar’s encounter in her courtyard. And it’s a mystery that gets weirder and weirder — and, at the same time, lovelier and more grotesque.
Part Mary Shelley and part Maureen Johnson, MARINA is definitely a must-read for this summer…and fall. Fans of the classic Gothic will eat this novel up, and those looking to dip their toes into the genre won’t be disappointed, either. Carlos Ruiz Zafón knows how to spin a tale, and MARINA is a tale well-spun.