Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review: Heaven by Cristoph Marzi

HeavenAuthor: Christoph Marzi
Publication date: February 2nd 2012
Publisher: Orchard Books

The night that Heaven lost her heart was cold and moonless. But the blade that sliced it out was warm with her dark blood. Forlorn, bewildered and throbbing fearfully, the heart was mirrored in the curved, silvery knife.

Heaven by Cristoph Marzi is a very unusual and refreshing modern day fairy tale. It was originally published in German in 2009, then translated to English and published by Orchard Books in 2012. If there’s one thing I love about Orchard, it’s that they’re not afraid to publish strange, risky titles that are clearly not for everyone (case in point: Ultraviolet). Heaven is a perfect example of precisely that – it is a beautiful, but unsettling story with a deeper allegorical significance. It can be taken at face value, or dug into for as many layers as any individual reader sees fit.

For seventeen-year-old David Pettyfer, life in Cardiff with his family became almost impossible when he was fifteen years old, so he ran away to London where he pushed drugs to survive. A year later, he got a job at a small bookstore and a tiny room above it and managed to turn his life around. He works for an old widow with a gift for finding rare books. One night, while running across the rooftops in Kensington, he nearly falls over a beautiful girl crouching in the dark. Her name is Heaven and she claims her heart has been cut out from her chest by two evil men. Naturally, David assumes she’s drunk or on drugs, but when they get to the emergency room, her lack of heartbeat confirms her story. Pretty soon both David and Heaven are being chased by these two evil men all over London. In order to survive, they need to find a way to get Heaven’s heart back.

For what’s basically an urban fairy tale, Heaven is extremely fast-paced. Remember Run Lola Run with Franka Potente? That’s how it felt to me. David and Heaven were constantly moving, changing, running from one life-threatening situation into another. Still, David wasn’t too quick to believe Heaven’s story. After all, no one can lose a heart and live to tell the tale. It wasn’t until the ER doctor frowned and went to make a mysterious phone call that David realized Heaven was telling the truth. Although David felt immediately attracted to this dark-skinned girl, their romance didn’t develop instantly. They took the time to get to know one another as much as the circumstances allowed before falling in love.

There were two things that disappointed and made me lower my rating. Villains were the first. They too were straight out of a fairy tale, but pure, unrestrained evil isn’t nearly as frightening as subtle evil. Instead, it can be almost ridiculous at times, and with these two, Marzi walked a very thin line. Secondary characters were also neglected, especially in the first half. Interludes, small chapters from their points of view helped, but there were some I wanted to know more about.

Regardless of its few flaws, Heaven deserves far more attention than it’s been getting, if for nothing else, then for the novelty it brings to the Young Adult genre.


  1. I read Heaven a while ago and i loved it! I'm glad you enjoyed it even though there were flaws for you.

  2. Nice review. You have me interested. Is it a stand alone?

  3. Yes, definitely a standalone, although enough things happen for a trilogy at least.

  4. Wow, this sounds amazing. You had me completely until you mentioned the one-dimensional villains. Now I'm not as sure about this - but I still kind of want to try it out. I love how dark and surreal it seems, although I guess I'm generally not a huge fan of the actionactionaction. :) I've really been wanting to read more translated novels though - it kills me how much great stuff I'm probably missing out there! Lovely review, M. This seems really different.

  5. I haven't heard of this one before, Maja, but it looks really good! I can see why you would have a problem with the few flaws in this book, but overall I'm glad that it was so fast-paced and kept your attention. I'll definitely have to give this one a try! Stunning review! :D

  6. I'm glad you reviewed this, Maja. I have a copy on my shelf that has been collecting dust, but now you definitely make me want to get it out now. It's nice to get something a little different, and despite the flaws you mentioned, this sounds like a very worthwhile read. Brilliant review! :)

    On a side note, did you know that Quicksilver's release date got pushed back? We aren't getting it until January now! :(

  7. Glad to see you enjoyed this one, Maja. I don't know if this would be a book for me, though, I'm not really into fairy tale sort of stories. Wonderful review Maja, as usual. :)

  8. Heaven does sound different from most! I agree, I prefer villains that are not pure evil (except for Voldemort, he's awesome) but most of my other favorite villains are not obviously evil. Terrific review Maja!!! I love that you mentioned Run Lola run! (fantastic movie)

  9. I'm so glad you reviewed this, months ago I would see it every time I went into a book store here, each time the cover would catch my eye but I'd never heard of the book or the author and I didn't wsnt to take a chance. Now I wish I'd bought it because I really enjoyed your review. I'm glad to hear that David was skeptical at first, who wouldn't be with a crazy story like that?

  10. I'm in love with Christopher Marzi's work, but I haven't read this one. After reading your review, I'm definitely going to find my own copy of it. It sounds wonderful :) Thanks for sharing!

  11. I'd never heard of this one (or Marzi at all), but I'm definitely intrigued enough to consider it! I love fairy tales, although the villain being completely boring and unfleshed out totally happens. It's always a bad sign when you laugh when the bad guy does something menacing.


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