To escape the rumblings of the war, Max Carver and his family move from the city to a coastal village and into a house that was recently purchased by his parents. Max’s father tells them the sad history of the house’s former owners and upon arriving at the village, Max immediately feels anxious about the place. Swallowing his fear, he sets out to explore the area and befriends Roland. Roland lives in the town lighthouse with his grandfather, having lost his parents years earlier in an accident. Soon after the friends meet, mysterious and awful things start to happen, including a bad accident involving one of Max’s sisters. Max uses a set of old film reels left behind in the house by the previous owners to help unravel the mystery.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon pulls the reader in immediately with his descriptions of Max and his family, the new town, and beach house. This mystery story has a dark, sinister feel to it without any excessive violence and is a real page-turner that would appeal to both young adults and adults alike.