Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a Spanish writer whose name is often quoted as one of the best contemporary artists. His most popular work is his four book series which start with the widely-known ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and continue with two even more gripping novels. In the awaiting of the last piece of the puzzle of this incredible story, I decided to read something else created by this absolute genius. I was bewitched by the title ‘Marina’ for it is a beautiful name which promises an interesting and enthralling protagonist. The girl embodies all of that and much more and is capable of charming the reader into falling in love with her. Don’t fight, it’s inevitable.
The tale is about Oscar Drai, who after years of trying to escape his past, ends up in lovely Barcelona where in the year of 1980 his life takes a turn that will give a new shape to his personal history. At the age of 15 the protagonist is in a boarding school, where the days are as dull as one can imagine. To entertain himself Oscar decides to look about an old and seemingly abandoned house where to his greatest surprise he encounters Marina, an enigmatic girl of his age. She lives in the vast and forgotten by the world edifice with her father, German Blau, who is still devastated by the loss of his beloved wife. Little by little Oscar delves in the lives of those lonely human beings and begins to uncover secrets and memories which have been long buried beneath the layers of time and dust. That is when he and Marina embark on an adventure that confronts them with a mysterious power that has set to achieve and impossible and unthinkable goal – defeating death.
This is a love story that is entwined with suspense and horror, a story so exceptional and rare where even the impossible is real. The plot of the novel is quite down-to-earth and fictional moments come as a big surprise to the reader. But they don’t ruin the authenticity of the book, on the contrary, they create an ambiance in which everything could happen. That makes the reader even more eager to get to the bottom of it all and understand what is hiding behind the curtains of this seemingly impossible to solve riddle.
The house where Marina and her father live is shrouded by the veil of history. Many generations have come to live under that roof and all of them bearing the same physical traits which are passed on much like the home itself. To keep the memory of ages past alive, a hall with portraits with all of the relatives of Marina is kept safe by the last of the pedigree. It is the inevitability for her to deny the roots of the family tree and the inevitability of her father to forget hiss grave loss.
The vintage atmosphere of the book creates the feeling that the reader is looking at an old faded photograph of Barcelona. The 1980 are the last years before technology takes over the life of an average person. The fact that young people can not imagine a world without their favorite gadgets makes the background of the book even more interesting and compelling to a young adult. Carlos Ruiz Zafon presents a city reined over by the modern and urban culture and still lacking much of today’s methods of communication and entertainment. It is this unique place that makes the story sound even more romantic, like the dear and cherished ballad, a song that constantly reminds of an unforgettable moment in time.
The story of Oscar Drai is that of love, life and death and the weight each on have on the decisions people make. After all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and the decisions we make and goals we set must always apply with what we actually want from the world. Because not to live and not to love for the sake of achieving immortality is a far more fatal faith than the natural end of a human being.
As a conclusion I can only say that Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written a masterpiece for ‘Marina’ is a profound novel which shows that sometimes the small things are those that shape our course of life. And it is the exceptional people we meet that make the biggest impact on us. So don’t hesitate and start reading this incredible book!