Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Recommendation: For die-hard fans of Zafon only, not recommended for stand-alone.
Summary: A mysterious customer enters Sempere's book shop, buys the most expensive book in the place, and leaves it for Fermin with a mysterious message inscribed on the first page. This mystery of Fermin's past will lead Daniel to revelations about his family and Fermin's past.
Reactions: I was looking forward to this book, but once I started reading, I realized that I didn't remember the previous two books in enough detail to get all the references. The Prisoner of Heaven brings in characters from The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game and reveals more of their past. Perhaps I should have re-read the previous books, but I decided to persevere and to my disappointment found that The Prisoner of Heaven doesn't read as well as a stand-alone novel. One problem is that not enough background was given in the book for me to remember what happened in the other two. The other problem is the lack of a satisfying story arch.
The book is divided into three parts. The first and the last are set in the present, where grown Daniel is the main protagonist and the second part is Fermin's back-story. I enjoyed the second part immensely and consider it the biggest reason I gave above rating to the book. On the other hand, Daniel's part of the story felt incomplete and it was quite clearly just a set up for the next book in the series.
Altogether the compelling writing style and Fermin's story arch made this book enjoyable, while the overall product ended up leaving me less impressed. I am thinking of re-reading the The Shadow of the Wind after this to pick up on the references I missed here and bring back the magic of the book well-written.