Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves.

I loved Zafon's breakaway bestseller novel The Shadow of the Wind and have eagerly awaited the release of The Angel's Game from Random House Canada.

David Martin is raised in poverty in Barcelona in the early 1900's. Orphaned, his love of words is what saves him. The owner of a bookstore - Sempere and Sons - also plays a significant role in his life. David lands a position at a newspaper and over the years works his way up to being a writer. He is befriended by a wealthy, older writer - Don Pedro Vidal - and begins writing successful, sensationalistic fiction under a pseudonym. When a mysterious French publisher, Corelli, offers him a small fortune to write a book that Corelli thinks will change the course of a belief system, he leaps at the chance. David moves into a small mansion that has been shuttered for years and begins to write. But Corelli is not what he seems and David's new home has secrets that threaten to consume him and those he loves.

The Angel's Game is intriguing, combining subtle supernatural elements with an actual mystery. It has a very gothic feel to it. There are many twists and turns, that change the story and keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Obsession is a theme running throughout the book - with love and language. David's love of Cristina - Vidal's wife and the written word are captured by Zafon's prose. His language is beautiful, seizing settings and bringing them to life. I could taste the dust in the bookstore.

The Cemetery of Lost Books plays a part in The Angel's Game as well. For those who haven't read The Shadow of the Wind, here's a passage that absolutely captivated me:

" This place is a mystery. A sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down it's pages, it's spirit grows and strengthens. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new readers hands, a new spirit..."

The ending is another one that I think will gender discussion. It is definitive, but may not necessarily be the one you saw coming.

Although Angel's Game and Shadow have connections, it is not necessary to have read Shadow to enjoy this new book. There are four books planned around The Cemetary of Lost Books - each able to be read as a 'stand alone.'


Pam said...

I also loved The Shadow of the Wind and am very much looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the review!

Anna said...

I haven't read anything by this author, but I've heard so many good things about his work that I've added them to my to-read list.

Diary of an Eccentric

bermudaonion said...

I can't wait to read this now. Great review!

carolsnotebook said...

I have this sitting on my shelf. Now I can't wait to read it.

Serena said...

Its good to know that I don't have to read the Shadow first to read this one.

Toni said...

Wow.. great review. I agree that passage is riveting. I am copying that down for sure. Very "save-worthy."

Sandra said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this since I've just posted my review of it too. It's good for people to know it's not a series in development of story, just interconnected characters. Even Zafon said they can be read in any order without missing anything. An impressive thing to pull off in writing really.

Pam said...

Fun! I have Shadow of the Wind on my list. I'll get to The Angel's Game eventually!

Diane said...

I was happy to read your review. It was great; thanks