The Midnight Palace

The Midnight Palace

by Carlos Ruiz Zafón


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In the heart of Calcutta lurks a dark mystery....

Set in Calcutta in the 1930s, The Midnight Palace begins on a dark night when an English lieutenant fights to save newborn twins Ben and Sheere from an unthinkable threat. Despite monsoon-force rains and terrible danger lurking around every street corner, the young lieutenant manages to get them to safety, but not without losing his own life. . . .

Years later, on the eve of Ben and Sheere's sixteenth birthday, the mysterious threat reenters their lives. This time, it may be impossible to escape. With the help of their brave friends, the twins will have to take a stand against the terror that watches them in the shadows of the night--and face the most frightening creature in the history of the City of Palaces.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316044745
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/10/2012
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 208,522
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Prince of Mist and the international phenomena The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game. His work has been published in more than fifty countries and honored with numerous awards. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.

Read an Excerpt

The Midnight Palace

By Zafon, Carlos Ruiz

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Copyright © 2011 Zafon, Carlos Ruiz
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780316044738

I’LL NEVER FORGET the night it snowed over Calcutta. The calendar at St. Patrick’s Orphanage was inching toward the final days of May 1932, leaving behind one of the hottest months ever recorded in the city of palaces.

With each passing day we felt sadder and more fearful of the approaching summer, when we would all turn sixteen, for this would mean our separation and the end of the Chowbar Society, the secret club of seven members that had been our refuge during our years at the orphanage. We had grown up there with no other family than ourselves, with no other memories than the stories we told in the small hours around an open fire in the courtyard of an abandoned mansion—a large, rambling ruin that stood on the corner of Cotton Street and Brabourne Road and which we’d christened the Midnight Palace. At the time, I didn’t know I would never again see the streets of my childhood, the city whose spell has haunted me to this day.

I have never returned to Calcutta, but I have always been true to the promise we all made to ourselves on the banks of the Hooghly River: the promise never to forget what we had witnessed. Time has taught me to treasure the memory of those days and to preserve the letters I received from the accursed city, for they keep the flame of my memories alive. It was through those letters that I found out our palace had been demolished and an office building erected over its ashes; and that Mr. Thomas Carter, the head of St. Patrick’s, had passed away after spending the last years of his life in darkness, following the fire that closed his eyes forever.

As the years went by, I heard about the gradual disappearance of all the sites that had formed the backdrop to our lives. The fury of a city that seemed to be devouring itself and the deceptive passage of time eventually erased all traces of the Chowbar Society and its members, at which point I began to fear that this story might be lost forever for want of a narrator.

The vagaries of fate have chosen me, the person least suited to the task, to tell the tale and unveil the secret that both bonded and separated us so many years ago in the old railway station of Jheeter’s Gate. I would have preferred someone else to have been in charge of rescuing this story, but once again life has taught me that my role is to be a witness, not the leading actor.

All these years I’ve kept the few letters sent to me by Roshan, guarding them closely because they shed light on the fate of each member of our unique society; I’ve read them over and over again, aloud, in the solitude of my study. Perhaps because I somehow felt that I had unwittingly become the repository of everything that had happened to us. Perhaps because I understood that, among that group of seven young people, I was always the most reluctant to take risks, the least daring, and therefore the most likely to survive.

In that spirit, and trusting that my memory won’t betray me, I will try to relive the mysterious and terrible events that took place during those four blazing days in May 1932.

It will not be easy, and I beg my readers to forgive my inadequate words as I attempt to salvage that dark Calcutta summer from the past. I have done my best to reconstruct the truth, to return to those troubled days that would inevitably shape our future. All that is left for me now is to take my leave and allow the facts to speak for themselves.

I’ll never forget the fear on the faces of my friends the night it snowed in Calcutta. But, as Ben used to tell me, the best place to start a story is at the beginning….


Excerpted from The Midnight Palace by Zafon, Carlos Ruiz Copyright © 2011 by Zafon, Carlos Ruiz. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Midnight Palace 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Calcutta in the 1930's, a man fights to save newborn twins from a monster. The twins are separated and hidden, but when they turn 16, they are found. Ben knows nothing of his family history, having been raised in an orphanage, but he and his best friends are determined to solve his family's mystery and save himself and his sister.
TheLostEntwife on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is one of my favorite authors for a reason - he knows how to start a story out, how to give it "flavor". The beginning of The Midnight Palace has a deadly chase, a set of babies crying and the backdrop of Calcutta in the early 1900's. Mix in rain, a good dose of mystery and a smattering of horror and you have a perfect beginning to a book.Sheere and Ben are twins, but they do not know of one another due to an incredible tragedy in their background. Both are raised in different styles, Ben in an orphanage and Sheere as a sort of gypsy, but their worlds collide on their 16th birthdays.Something that Zafon does so well is create gothic settings and they were in abundance in The Midnight Palace. From the house Sheere has been searching for to the old train station, I never stopped feeling as if I needed to look over my shoulder. This isn't sweet romance-y paranormal young adult fiction, this is a bit edgy, ghost-horror stuff. And it's thrilling.While I didn't enjoy The Midnight Palace(Niebla #2) as much as I did The Prince of Mist (Niebla #1), I did enjoy it and found it difficult to put down - even at night when every little sound had me looking around the room. My only regret is that I'm unable to read the books in the language they were originally written. That said though - the translation is magnificent, as all of Zafon's books are, and there is more than one phrase that had me reading and re-reading it, enjoying the beauty of the writing.Though this is an older book in its original language, it's fresh and something new to read in the YA genre and I welcome it.
edenjean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review WIPDespite it's intriguing plot and unique setting, "The Midnight Palace" is a poorly written novel with no redeeming qualities. Calcutta in the early Twentieth century, the novel follows the lives of a group of teenage orphans, two of which are twins separated at birth and pursued by a mysterious killer. Ben and Sheere were born to "The Princess of Light," their mother who died, without explanation, at the time of their birth. The twins' father was a world-famous engineer who died in an inexplicable accident during the unveiling of his famous new train system for Calcutta, even before the children were born. The boy, Ben, was raised in a Calcutta orphanage by Thomas Cutter, while his sister Sheere was raised by her grandmother as they traveled around the country trying to evade the aforementioned mysterious killer. The night before the twins' sixteenth birthday they meet for the first time, and the killer, Jawahal, returns to take their lives. The dialogue is stuffy and unnatural, the descriptions are forced and dull, and the timeline is confusing. Jawahal, the villain, instead of being interesting in his mysteriousness, is actually quite vague and cliche. I suspect the author intended to leave the reading wanting more information about the villain, making the reader want to continue the book, but instead it simply leaves gaping plot holes and undeveloped characters.
mamzel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Orphans raised in the St. Patrick's Orphanage in Calcutta plan a party to celebrate their sixteenth "birthdays", the anniversary of their arrival at the orphanage and the eve of their release back to the streets. Strange events unfold, however, around one of them, Ben, who is stalked by a faceless menace waiting for him outside. An old woman shows up with another 16-year old girl demanding to speak to the director of the orphanage. The group invites Sheere to join their party and membership in their secret group called the Chowbar Society.I loved the setting, the sense of growing danger, the references to British rule and the atrocities thereof. The teens raised in the orphanage by a European and given a heady European education, have talents and abilities that make it hard to remember that these are Indian children rescued from the dredges of Calcutta's slums.The language of this book is outstanding, far above the dross that has flooded YA literature of late. It is a treat. I only hope that teens will find and appreciate this book.
PaulAllard More than 1 year ago
Supernatural tale for teenagers in Calcutta in 1932 This novel aimed at young adults takes places mostly in Calcutta in 1932 and deals with the confrontation between a group of 16-year-old orphans and a supernatural enemy. The main characters of this group are Ben and Sheere, twins separated at birth for reasons explained in the book. The other orphans belong to a group meeting regularly in the Midnight palace, an abandoned house. These are just about all the characters involved apart from a couple of others who are essential to the explanation of the plot. Well-written and quite fast-moving, this didn’t engage me much especially compared to the author’s adult work such as The Name of the Wind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mesmerizing story. Highly recommend the audio version.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that it was a great book but it was very challanging to read it in spanish i hope once i read it in english it will be easier
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed with this book. Nothing like The Shadow Of The Wind. Or The Angels Game
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the story and the ending but I just wished it was longer.
Sorpresa More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It was a little bit scarier than I thought it would especially if its target audience is teens. The ending could have been better. But for teen book and for one of his first books its not bad. Definitely not as good as Shadow of the Wind.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LiteraryOmnivore More than 1 year ago
I loved Shadow of the Wind and Angel's Game. This book is not of the same caliber. It may actually be more aimed at young adults. It was not what I was expecting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ChristysBookBlog More than 1 year ago
The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruis Zafon is the author's first attempt at a young adult novel. A group of orphans created a club for themselves in 1930s Calcutta to help cope with the rigors of a difficult life. On the brink of their release into the world on their sixteenth birthday, the group's leader, Ben, is given some shocking information about his true identity and discovers his long-lost twin sister, Sheere. The story the twins are told is a horrifying one that left both of their parents dead, and the murderer on a quest to destroy them, so their grandmother separated them in hopes of keeping them both safe. But the dark and frightening enemy is back and determined to wreak his revenge upon Ben and Sheere's family. Zafon has made a major stumble with this suspenseful tale. The Shadow of the Wind is one of my favorite books, so I was looking forward to reading Midnight Palace, but I was disappointed. Zafon's Calcutta doesn't feel even remotely like the mystical and mysterious city of Calcutta; instead it comes across as any generic European city, most likely London. Even the main characters have English names: Ben, Ian, Seth, and Michael! The story could easily be rewritten substituting London for Calcutta and very few changes would need to be made. Midnight Palace may have been better as a trilogy. Zafon creates some fantastical settings, but fails to use them well, like Chandra's house and the train station. I would have loved for the characters to spend several chapters exploring both, but instead readers are rushed through them as Zafon pushes his characters into confrontation and rusty plot devices. The club seeks to investigate the story Sheere's grandmother tells them, not to propel the story, but only to prove her a liar. I get the impression that Zafon had a vision of this unusual group of children investigating this strange story, but instead of allowing the story to unfold, it's rushed through any kind of emotional or suspenseful breakthroughs. A major revelation is broadcast early on, and the climax is never in doubt, and I wish Zafon had handled both with more subtlety. Zafon is a fantastic author, and this book had so much potential. I almost wish he would write it again using his immeasurable talents to their limit.
Diane_DAngelo More than 1 year ago
As expected Carlos Ruiz Zafron's love afair with words are evident once again in Midnight Palace. I enjoyed the book but was disappointed by the same familar story lines that appeared in Angels Game and Shadow of the Wind. Carlos needs to challenge him self and his creativity
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Lawral More than 1 year ago
If you are a fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafón's adult novels (which I am, go read Shadow of the Wind right now!), this may not be the book for you. It lacks some of the magic of his adult work. However, if you are the kind of reader who likes to see the evolution of a writer's work as he hones his skill (guilty again), this is most definitely the book for you. Written before his adult works but translated into English later, The Midnight Palace shows the beginning of CRZ's talent for layering stories, juggling a large cast of characters (though none are very well rounded in this one), and placing the unbelievable in the middle of a believable place and time. Unfortunately, his ability to turn a place into a character in its own right is not on display here, which is a shame because Calcutta would have been a good one. Here, it is incidental rather than integral to the story. If you're not already a fan or CRZ, really, go read Shadow of the Wind. Also, the rest of this review is for you. The Midnight Palace is not the kind of book I usually read. It's an action/horror/paranormal-type hybrid that leans toward the scary/creepy end of things, and it is not at all character-driven. No one really grows or changes because of what happens. It has both a prologue (not my fave) and a where-are-they-now epilogue (one of my pet peeves). And yet, I really enjoyed reading it. While I was reading, I was scared and jumpy right along with the rest of Ben's gang. I was concerned for everyone's safety because they were so concerned for each other. I was nodding along with Sheere when she longed to be part of a group like theirs. It looked like fun (until it looked like a house of horrors), and I wish CRZ had let me, the reader, a bit more into the group. I never felt like I got to know any of the characters, Ben and Sheere included. Frankly, almost as soon as I finished reading, they were gone from my mind. What they went through and what they did, though, that stayed with me. Looking back, there were holes and a few things that could have used an explanation, but I didn't notice at the time. I was too caught up in the bowels of a burnt-out train station with the rest of the gang. There was plenty going on to keep my attention. In addition to the ghost train there is a pool of blood that never dries, a grandma who operates strictly on a need-to-know basis and fails to realize that Ben and Sheere Need to Know it all, court records in vast archives, an architect's dream house, and a guy whose hand burst into flame on a disturbingly regular basis. The action is quick, the consequences are severe, and the reasons behind it all are shrouded in mystery. In short this is a quick, fun read. It's certainly not light and fluffy summer reading, but it's the dark and stormy night equivalent. Book source: ARC provided by the publisher.