The Angel’s Game
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city’s underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.
Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed-a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.
When I found out that another of Zafon’s books was coming out, I became really excited as I had enjoyed his previous book, The Shadow of the Wind (which easily became one of my favourite books ever). At first I told myself that I would wait for it to come out on paperback (to match my other book) but after seeing it everywhere, I succumbed and bought the hardcover (for a good price, I might add) *blushes*
In The Angel’s Game, you definitely read the traits that make Zafon such a wonderful and enjoyable writer to read: wonderful and amusing dialogue (I especially loved the banter between David and Isabella and David and Don Vidal (at least, early on)), the description of the many places and streets of Barcelona, the familiar Cemetery of Forgotten Books, etc. As Zafon has mentioned in interviews and snippets, the book serves as a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind in some ways (but also serves as a standalone), something that didn’t really register in my brain until the very end…but I won’t spoil you guys about that 😉
But the novel also different than The Shadow of the Wind: for one thing, the atmosphere of the novel is different. In SOTW, you get a sort of Victorian-esque feel and mysterious atmosphere while reading through the novel. In The Angel’s Game, there’s still a mysterious atmosphere surrounding the events of the novel but it’s less potent, the feel is darker, more ominous and foreboding, like you know things are going to take a turn for the worst at any moment. While The Shadow of the Wind can be seen as a kind of coming-of-age story, with the main character Daniel being in his teens for most of the novel, David in The Angel’s Game is already an adult so there’s also that perspective brought to the novel. The supernatural element is also much stronger in The Angel’s Game, which makes sense given the darker nature of the overall story.
I did have one tiny little issue with the course of the story (which is surprising as I had no qualms whatsoever with The Shadow of the Wind), and that is Christina’s reluctance to be with David. While I understand her sense of gratitude and that feeling of “I owe him” towards Don Vidal, I wasn’t fully convinced of it as the sole reason for her not starting a relationship with David. In fact, the start of their relationship, of why and how attracted David was to Christina, didn’t seem as fleshed out as it could have been. It gets expanded as you read the novel, but the early segments of their encounter and of their relationship could have been addressed more fully.
Otherwise, I was entirely absorbed in the novel (gave up attempting to study my Russian to read the novel). Zafon did a wonderful job in presenting yet another amazing story. Definitely recommend this novel for book lovers and fans of the previous novel. 🙂