Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marina is a gothic novel featuring death, madness, and deformity. Set in Barcelona on the cusp of the 1980s, it features many of the trappings of gothic literature: doomed love, scientific experiments gone awry, monstrous creatures, and trips through the sewers. Sexual content is limited to a crush and one kiss, and there are only a handful of uses of "damn," "hell," and "bastard." There's a fair amount of violence, including fatal gunfights, stabbings, and a theater fire.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
While exploring the back streets of Barcelona in the late 1970s and escaping the drudgery of his boarding school, 15-year-old Oscar Drai discovers a mysterious residence occupied by a girl named Marina and her sickly father, German. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery, where they witness a macabre ritual that takes place on the final Sunday of each month: A woman dressed in a black shroud places a single rose on an unmarked grave. From that encounter, the children embark on a hair-raising adventure that takes them into a mysterious labyrinth beneath the city's streets and embroils them in a tale of corruption and tragedy that harks back three decades.
Is it any good?
MARINA is a novel that indulges in big themes and sweeping gestures. Its plot is fairly implausible, but author Carlos Ruiz Zafon gets away with its preposterousness through sheer conviction and manipulative emotion. Fans of gothic literature will appreciate its themes of madness, doomed love, and scientific experiments gone awry, and the final chapters are likely to bring a tear to the eye.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what "gothic literature" means. Why do you think the genre has remained popular for so many decades?
When people refer to a book as a "cult classic," what do they mean? Can a book's reputation change over time?
What other horror novels have you read? How does this one compare?
- Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: July 22, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love horror and fantasy
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.