Having very much enjoyed Zafon's literary mystery, "The Shadow of the Wind," I had high hopes for this slender novel. I was extremely disappointed. The story is interesting, quite original and well thought out, with an interesting ending, but the writing is just awful. The characters are incredibly simplistic. Their relationships to each other are obvious in the extreme. Their dialogue is practically tortured. Zafon apparently chose to write their speaking in the same way he writes; stories are told in perfect, dramatic detail, in ways that no person actually talks. This took me somewhat aback, and I tried to make excuses for it, such as that Zafon had chosen to write the book this way on purpose. But then why would the narrative be so dull? It was like he switched narrative description with bland dialogue. My best guess is that this was Zafon's first attempt at young adult fiction. Where he failed is in striking a balance between easy readability and challenging the young reader. He ended up, instead, with flat characters and an unbelievable story. Which is a shame, really, because the kernel of the story is really quite good.