Of Love & Loss: Marina, by Carlos Ruis Zafon

If you knew you would lose someone, would you choose to love them all the same?

“We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine.”

Fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai loves to wander in Barcelona in his time off school. One of his wanderings will lead him to a strange house, where he meets Marina, the girl of his dreams.

Together they are going to discover hidden places, but along with them, they are going to see things they should not have seen, and they will uncover secrets that were best left unseen. A mysterious veiled woman visits the old cemetery the last Sunday of every month, and following her will be the beginning of the unravelling of a tragedy.

On a first glimpse, you would probably think this is just a mystery. There’s a vast variety to choose from in this genre, especially in the last five years or so. What makes this  book so different, is that it is more than just a mystery.

This is a book of love, all kinds of it, all the ways love manifests between people. Love of a husband about a wife long gone, love of a father for an only daughter, friendship, love between two people that cannot be together. This is a book about loss. Anger, death, breakups, betrayal, madness. This is a book about the joys and pain of loving, and winning, and loosing.And in that sense, it is a wonderful and tragic story that goes beyond searching for the mystery. Marina is a woman you will get to love, and get angry with, and admire. For women everywhere, Marina is a role model. Whether a man or a woman, you will in some sense fall in love with her character, her streangth, even her weakness.

Carlos Ruis Zafon is no unknown writer. He has long been considered a master in mysteries, and he will not disappoint you. Even the skilled readers will realise that they cannot predict the end, which is the essence of a good mystery novel. A plot within a plot, it is easily readable and unpredictable at the same time.

For the ‘newbies’ of Zafon, this is probably his best book to start with. Marina will be carved in your thoughts for a long, long time.