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The Prisoner of Heaven

(El cementerio de los libros olvidados #3)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  65,990 ratings  ·  5,894 reviews
Barcelona, 1957. It is Christmas, and Daniel Sempere and his wife Bea have much to celebrate. They have a beautiful new baby son named Julian, and their close friend Fermín Romero de Torres is about to be wed. But their joy is eclipsed when a mysterious stranger visits the Sempere bookshop and threatens to divulge a terrible secret that has been buried for two decades in t ...more
Hardcover, First U.S. Edition, 278 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Harper (first published November 1st 2011)
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Patrick Schlüter I had read PoH before Angel's game and enjoyed it immensely. I re-read it after Angel's game and enjoyed it even more. The back-story of Angel's game …moreI had read PoH before Angel's game and enjoyed it immensely. I re-read it after Angel's game and enjoyed it even more. The back-story of Angel's game filled the secondary characters with so much life that the story changed significantly. So I tend to think that the books should be read in the right order to be enjoyed to their fullest.(less)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  65,990 ratings  ·  5,894 reviews

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Start your review of The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3)
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book is a perfect example of what is wrong with the publishing world. Zafon's first book, The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all time favorites. Ever. The second book The Angel's Game is well up there on my list, so when I saw The Prisoner of Heaven on display, I was ecstatic. Unfortunately, it is very clear that Zafon was under time pressure from the publisher on this book, enough so that the story was irreversibly ruined.

You see, Zafon is a master of prose, character, and theme. Indeed
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5/5 stars

Both Daniel Sempere and David Martin already have their respective background told, now it’s time for Fermin Romero de Torres’s past to be revealed.

“One mustn't dream of one's future; one must earn it.”

The Prisoner of Heaven is the third—and penultimate—installment in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The story takes place in Barcelona 1957, and it mainly revolves around connecting the plot-threads prepared in The Shadow of the Wind and The Ange
Jeanette (Again)
Nothing can match the complexity and sinister suspense of The Shadow of the Wind, but The Prisoner of Heaven is a worthy follow-up to that story. I liked this one better than The Angel's Game, which I found somewhat confusing and overwrought.

Fermin Romero de Torres was my favorite character in The Shadow of the Wind(TSOTW), so I was delighted to discover that he takes center stage in this story. Remember in TSOTW when the boy Daniel meets Fermin, a pitiful, starving wraith in rags, prowling the
Will Byrnes
Jul 18, 2012 rated it liked it
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s series that began with The Shadow of the Wind and continued with The Angel’s Game.

The main character in this chapter of Ruiz Zafon’s multi-volume tale is Fermin Romero de Torres, friend to the Sempere family, the owners of a struggling bookshop, in 1957 Barcelona. While other characters get their time on stage, this is Fermin’s tale. And a compelling story it is, from the time he adopted his name, through his less than friendly encount
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2012
The book to me was really like Ruiz Zafon decided that he had all these notes and back story on Fermin Romero de Torres and how could you turn that into a novel. Well you link some of the previous characters into the story and produce a book that leaves you as the reader disappointed. This book, while explaining away some back story did nothing for the trilogy except open up the possibility of another book. I did not find myself engaged with the characters nor all that intrigued by the mysteriou ...more
Lydia Presley
Books like The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón make me love being not only a reader, but someone who loves the look, feel, and smell of books. Why? Because I get the feeling that Zafón has the same sort of reaction to picking up a book. There's this feeling of history, companionship, and shared experience I get when I handle something old and precious, and a sense of awakening hope for the future when I pick up something new.

The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book centering around the
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Deep down we've never been who we think we once were, and we only remember what never happened.”

I didn’t expect this book to have such a dark turn. And that says a lot after melancholic Shadow of the Wind and depressive Angel’s Game. The author took the best out of the previous two books and made a true masterpiece. While my favorite Daniel isn’t the star of the book, Fermin was more than a competent protagonist.

Daniel Sem­pere and his wife Bea are con­tent with their marriage and their b
TS Chan
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

The Prisoner of Heaven was another captivating entry in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books that provided a more balanced tone of light and dark.

“Destiny doesn't do home visits... you have to go for it yourself.”

The third book of the series felt almost like an interlude between the wider narrative, especially because of its much shorter length. Fans of the marvellous Fermìn Romero de Torres will rejoice to know that The Prisoner of Heaven provided his much-needed backstory. It w
Nov 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved this trilogy , (tetralogy, since I have now found out there is a final book that just came out , only in Spanish for not , lucky for me I read Spanish too :) ) but I digress, this third book didn't feel whole for me , it felt like there were parts missing , like somebody had a 600 page book, and then edited 350 pages out of it thinking that it made sense , while all the core elements that have made me love this series are there (the cemetery of forgotten books, the gothic mystery, recurr ...more
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the first two books in the series and the voice of the narrator.
 Irma Sincera
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think this one is even better that the first one, or at least they both are equal. Fermin always was my favorite character in this story and this book it's basically about him. The writing, the plot, that sense of humor! I cant wait for the last book, so much tension!
Jul 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: novel, mystery, spanish
I finish this book a bit confused. First of all, the discrepancies between this and The Angel's Game, specifically concerning the events and time frame of Isabella's death, left me scratching my head. Did CRZ do that specifically in order to confound the reader and then rescue his curiosity in the last book? I hope it is something like that, because there are only 2 other alternatives that are equally distasteful to me. The first is that I actually made the mistake in ordering all the events tha ...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
The year is 1957. It’s just before Christmas in Barcelona and Daniel and Bea are living with their son above the bookstore Sempere & Sons. The faithful servant Fermín is about to get married. One day an old man visits the bookstore and he wants to buy an old and valuable version of The Count of Monte Cristo. But he doesn’t take the book with him instead he leaves the books with a dedication…

The book continues the story that started in The Shadow of the Wind and also has ties with The Angel's Gam
Original review(s) below - seems I did one on Spanish publication in 2011 and then a FBC review linked on English publication, so now just a few thoughts on the reread in January 2017 leading to the 4th and last book in the series

- book still entertaining and a fast read that started strong and ended on a sort of cliffhanger
- shorter and more of a set-up; now that the David Martin revelation is known (which was the shock of the novel on first read) the book reads somewhat differently as the fo
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers

WARNING! This post contains spoilers!!

Oh, The Prisoner of Heaven, WHY? WHY?

You will have to excuse this sudden display of emotional distress. But I am overcome with feelings and they must be exorcized here.

A few years ago I read The Shadow of the Wind, a tremendous Gothic thriller with labyrinthine storytelling, a wonderful sense of setting, beautiful writing and incredible characters. It soon became a favourite. I do recognise its problems especially
Andrew Smith
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In September 2018 Zafon released the fourth, and final, episode of his series featuring the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles hidden away in the old city of Barcelona. Those lucky enough to be invited into its enclave are permitted to choose just one book from its shelves. In book 1, The Shadow of the Wind we meet ten-year-old Daniel who has been granted this rare privilege and in due course readers drawn into a world of mystery and intrigue str ...more
LeAnne: GeezerMom
May 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Because it was chosen for my women's only book club, I read the first novel in this series called The Shadow of the Wind. It wasn't a bad book by any stretch but didn't thrill me. When this third of the batch came up as an audio book at the library, I thought it might be something my 14 year old and I could listen to together while driving him up and back to the day camp where he is volunteering.

No Bueno. He bailed out early, finding it a bit silly, but I stuck it out. The reading level on this
Mattia Ravasi
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Series review

If Wind and Angel's Game can be read as self-conclusive chapters in the Cemetery series, I'm not 100% sure the same could be said of this one.

It mostly centers on Fermin because, let's face it, he was just too irresistible not to get his own book, and manages to connect Wind and Angel together, and to set the stage for the fourth book.

For all that it feels more like a "necessary" bridge between other entries than a novel in its own right, I had tons of fun with it, and I was glad to
Nov 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Existing fans of the series only
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third book in Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Barcelona quartet, which began with The Shadow of the Wind and continued with its prequel, The Angel's Game. This story draws strands of the two previous books together, revisiting Daniel Sempere, the protagonist of The Shadow of the Wind, and his friend and colleague Fermín Romero de Torres. Fermín, previously more of an amusing sidekick, takes centre stage here as his complex and dramatic backstory is revealed (although Daniel sti ...more
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
I am sad to say I did not fall head over heels for this book like I did for other books by Zafón. The first 2/3s of this book dragged on and lacked the atmospheric and mysterious writing that other novels had in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I didn’t find myself gripped by Fermín’s story he was telling Daniel until the very end when David Martín was brought back to the forefront of the story.

I also wouldn’t say, like the beginning of this novel stated, that one can read these stories
Edgarr Alien Pooh
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
The Prisoner of Heaven is the third volume in Ruiz Zafon's Cemetary of Forgotten Books series, at this stage, there is at least one more book. Like the previous two books, this book oozes atmosphere, the reader is taken on another scenic journey of Barcelona. But this one is a little different from the first two. In Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game we are introduced to the Sempere and Sons bookstore and the Cemetary of Forgotten Books. This volume returns us to the store and eventually th ...more
Jim Fonseca
May 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spanish-authors
The author of The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game has written a sequel to those books forming a kind of trilogy. I say “kind of” trilogy because they can be read independently of each other and in any order. In fact this most recent book mainly makes passing references to events and characters in the others. So we are back in a bookstore in Barcelona with mysterious goings-on that date back to the Spanish Civil War. The action jumps back and forth between the present (1957) and events in ...more
Feb 21, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: translated, owned
I enjoyed this book, though it was quite short. It basically just gives you backstory on characters from both The Angel's Game and The Shadow of the Wind. It did add a little conflict/plot to the series, but as a whole I felt like this book is more off an add-on than its own installment. I enjoyed Zafon's writing as always, and since I'm a big fan of both Daniel and Fermin, I liked spending more time with them. But as a whole I wouldn't have died if I never read this story. However, it's absolut ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Prisoner of Heaven is the third enchanting story from Carlos Ruiz Zafon's, Cemetery of Forgotten Books trilogy and it continues with the same edgy atmosphere as the previous 2 books. There is always a sense of darkness and secrets with these stories and Zafon is a master of keeping the flow of suspicion and intrigue alive throughout a book.

Characters from the other books return, but this book is mainly focused on Fermín who works with Daniel in the bookshop. The story begins when an
Kelly Hager
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Shadow of the Wind is my favorite novel ever, and so when I learned there would be a companion novel, I could have cried. And then when I found out that Daniel and Bea would appear in another book? I think my Grinchy heart grew five sizes. Granted, this novel is more about Fermin but that's okay---I love Fermin!

The thing that I love most about Carlos Ruiz Zafon and this series is that he's written a love letter to books and to the people that read them. Pretty much everything that's good abo
Emma Turi
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love this series and can't wait to read the final book
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
It was very easy to give the maximum rating for the previuos books of the author using the Barcelona setting. I loved the characters, the use of language, the romantic entaglements of the heroes and the gothic mood. Much of these aspects are present in The Prisoner of Heaven and at the start I believed the book will be another addition to my favorites shelf. Now that I've finished it I believe the missing ingredient is plot, a coherent story, a point of focus to the narrative. As other reviewe ...more
Doug Bradshaw
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you loved Shadow of the Wind like I did, you'll love this book. It is the perfect follow up book with Fermin and Daniel starring and Martin is also there in the background as well as Isabella. The story goes through Femin's imprisonment and difficult life and his role in Daniel's life. It is touching, funny, and profound in its own way. I love this author and can't wait for the next book. Here are some random comments:

1. Half of the enjoyment of this book is Fermin's clever lines and observat
I liked this third volume of the series better than “The Shadow of the Wind” and “The Angel’s Game” due to its simpler, less labyrinthine plot. I was captivated by this wonderful story of the power of friendship, love, and sacrifice engagingly written with warmth and humor. It also shines with old fashioned adventures and a prose style hearkening back to tales written by Dumas.

Daniel Sempere, who runs a bookstore in Barcelona with his father in the late 50’s, receives a threatening visit and mys
Zafon’s prose – even translated, which I find amazing – never fails to take my breath away. I would happily read any story he’d set his heart on writing, but after falling in love so hard with “Shadow of the Wind” (, any episode of his Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is a special treat. “Prisoner of Heaven” is the shortest installment, and while you can read the first two books independently (and in any order), this third novel is crucial to the series ...more
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Carlos Ruiz Zafón was a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and worked as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las l

Other books in the series

El cementerio de los libros olvidados (4 books)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)
  • The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)
  • El laberinto de los espíritus (El cementerio de los libros olvidados, #4)

Articles featuring this book

His Favorite Books About Books: Visit 1950s Barcelona in his new gothic thriller, The Prisoner of Heaven, and try these recs that celebrate...
97 likes · 24 comments
“Deep down we've never been who we think we once were, and we only remember what never happened.” 69 likes
“One mustn't dream of one's future; one must earn it.” 55 likes
More quotes…