The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Book Review

Title: The Angel’s Game

Series: Cemetery of Forgotten Books #2

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Genre/Themes: Mystery, Gothic, Historical Fiction, Loyalty, Friendships

Blurb from Goodreads

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 realises that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Once again, Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in the Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.

My Review

Imagine a book that is a mystery with the sensibility of a gothic horror but is also a story about loyalty and friendships, and love and betrayal. How can one book be so many things and not feel like a gigantic mess? Well in the hands of Carlos Ruiz Zafón it seems such feats are indeed possible.

‘The Angel’s Game’ is the second book in his The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series following on from my much loved The Shadow of the Wind.

But it’s not a direct sequel. It’s a prequel but can very much be read as a standalone.

I don’t know how to explain the storyline other than to say I was entirely captivated. I never for one second knew where the plot would twist and turn to next. These are truly books for book-lovers. Whereas Shadow explored a love for books more from a reader’s vantage this one touches on the love a writer has for the written word.

“I had always felt that the pages I left behind were a part of me. Normal people bring children into the world; we novelists bring books. We are condemned to put our whole lives into them, even though they hardly ever thank us for it. We are condemned to die in their pages and sometimes even to let our books be the ones who, in the end, will take our lives.”

As with The Shadow of the Wind the quality of the writing is of the highest calibre. The streets of Barcelona truly come alive in the pages of this book as do the colourful, larger than life characters who inhabit them.

My absolute favourite thing about this book was the relationship between David and Isabella. It was so gloriously written. They perfectly complimented each other in their roles as mentor and student and the true friendship that blossomed between them is one of the most beautiful connections between two people that I’ve ever read.

Admittedly this book doesn’t quite reach the perfection of its published precursor as the ending is a little more hurried than I would like but it makes for an absolutely rip-roaring of a read. And reading this has made me incredibly excited to read book three in the series.


Other Works by Carlos Ruiz Zafón I’ve Reviewed

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