The Rose of Fire begins even before the beginning. It tells a fairy tale of sorts, set in the heart and hypocrisy of the Spanish Inquisition and explores the nature of true goodness in the face of proclaimed virtue and in the process sets the stage for the creation of the Cemetery of Lost Books which is the heart of all of these novels.
Not a very long story---a preface to a story to come, really. But the language.... Zafon can write as few can. His wonderful characters are like those of Dickens or Dumas, as is the tremendous heart and biting commentary of his prose. Mix that with the dark Gothic sensibility of Poe and you have a sense of the flavor.
As these books are originally written in Spanish, the translator, Lucia Graves, should also be congratulated on her translation which (based on what friends of mine say who are fluent in both languages--I am merely conversational in Spanish) convey and retain the magic of the original Spanish editions.