The Midnight Palace

Thank goodness for the fact that September has 31 days in it! (Yes, you may think it says 1st October above, but it is the 31st of September. We witches have a way with dates.)

So, my foreign reading challenge for September comes from Spain, and The Midnight Palace is the second of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s children’s books. I was slightly confused about some aspects of Carlos’s first book, but this one reads like a dream. In fact, for a foreign book its flavour is so very British as to almost disqualify itself for the challenge.

Set in Calcutta in 1932 it is a British Empire kind of story, if that’s what one can call it. Like in his first book, Carlos weaves the supernatural into the plot, and it was hard to work out quite how he would resolve it.

It’s about a group of 16-year-old orphans, on the eve of them being sent out into the world from the orphanage where they have spent their whole lives so far. One of them has a threat hanging over him, which none of them have been aware of, and which comes almost like a bolt from the blue.

They need to suddenly sort this situation out, and it becomes dangerous for all of them, and the meaning of friendship comes to the fore. What will they do? And is it going to be everyone for themselves?

I’m uncertain of the children’s origins in some cases, but I’m guessing it’s a mix of native and white. Calcutta is a fascinating and dangerous place, and this is a very exciting story. I already look forward to his next book.

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