The Midnight Palace by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Published originally in 1994 in Spain, this is the story of twin siblings Ben and Sheree, separated at birth by their grandmother, Aryami Bose, to protect them from a mysterious stranger, who has already taken the lives of their parents.  Ben was left in the care of Thomas Carter, the head of St. Patrick's Orphanage in Calcutta, where he forms a close allegiance with six other children and forms a secret club called "The Chowbar Society". Meanwhile, Sheree is always on the move with her grandma, hiding out in small villages, not knowing what friendship is. The only companion she has is her father's writings, which she reads and rereads to try to get to know him.

Sixteen years later, Aryami Bose came back to her hometown to pay Thomas Carter a visit in the middle of the night.  She knows the stranger is coming back for the twins, he has promised that at their birth, and she must warn Carter. As they discuss the matter at hand behind closed doors, Sheree patiently waits at the entrance of the orphanage. These two visitors at midnight do not go unnoticed though, and among the curious onlookers was Ben, who decides to walk up to Sheree to offer her lemonade.

It was almost impossible to put this book down. It's very well-written and the scenes plays out in your mind so naturally and effortlessly.  The story is intense and terrifying, as Ben and Sheree try to evade the evil man with flames. But because of the unwavering friendship of the Chowbar Society, it's so much more than just the story of the twins. Readers will relish peeling open the different layers of the story. My only complaint is that when you get to the very last bit, I didn't quite like who the murderer turns out to be. It doesn't quite work for me, but nonetheless, it's a darn good story.

It's interesting to read other reviews of this book. Many say it's good but it's not "their kind of book". It's marketed as YA so they're expecting something else.  Maybe that's why I liked it so much, 'cause it's not a "typical" teen book.  I can see it as an upper elementary read though.
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