A really really good book. I absolutely love Zafon's book. A mix of mystery, romance and adventure. This book is the first one he ever wrote and published and is a part of the Mist Trilogy that connects three of his YA novels by theme of see, light and darkness, specters and secrets.
It's the story of Max Carver, son of a watchmaker, who has moved with his family from the city in order to get away from the war. Max's new house was formerly owned by Richard Fleischman, his wife and son. Max experiences mysterious events which have to do with Jacob Fleischman, the son of Richard Fleishman, who had drowned. Over time, Max discovers a sculpture garden near his house, where strange things happen. Max finally makes a friend, Roland. Roland is older than Max, around the age of his sister, Alicia, who is 16. After diving near the wreck, the Orpheus, Max has more and more questions, which will be answered by Victor Kray, grandfather of Roland.
A key figure in the plot is Doctor Kain, a mysterious mag, who grants wishes, but demands something in return. He feeds on souls. This character appears in many forms in Zafon's other books. It's really intriguing to see how he has evolved through his writing history.
I strongly recommend reading this book. And all of Zafon's others too. I'm now reading one of the other two books in the Mist Trilogy - Midnight Palace.