I don't have a lot of time for reading this time of year since I'm overwhelmed with Festival-planning and several other projects next year but I have managed to read Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novel, The Prisoner of Heaven. Because I was in Barcelona last week for a work project, I started the novel the week before I left but have still only managed to get about halfway through it.
Zafon's novels that I've read are engaging and very readable (translated from Spanish) but I also struggle with their lack of depth. Sure, there are historical secrets revealed and I love the setting which he so richly captures. But I don't really find the characters that alive or that realistic. They are too extreme: either all good and saintly or pure evil. As most of us know, that's just not how people are. I prefer characters that are more complex; I prefer more ambiguous, complex questions about morality and history.
Perhaps I'm being unfair since I've only read half the novel - and perhaps I will change my mind later - but this is what strikes me so far. I'm still enjoying it but I find these kinds of novels don't stay with me. In a few years, I'll be able to read it again and will remember very little about it. I contrast this, for example, with Elena Ferrante's main characters in her Neapolitan novels who are devilishly complex: sometimes you adore them; other times you detest them. They are not easy people to understand, their motivations are complicated and deep, like most humans are.
Still, it's a book worth reading and I can see why Zafon is such a broadly appealing writer.