Book Review # 78 - The Angel's Game

The Angel's Game


Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Front Flap: "The Angel's Game is a dazzling novel that brings us back to the unique and mysterious world of The Shadow of the Wind--and is certain to be one of the most talked about and widely read books of the year. In the turbulent and surreal Barcelona of the 1920's, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before--a book for which "people will live and die." In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more. Soon, David begins to see frightening parallels between the book he's been commissioned to write and an old religious manuscript retrieved from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Meanwhile, David's ethereal publisher's sinister scope of influence begins to encroach more and more upon his own life."

Since I hadn't read The Shadow on the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I really didn't know what to expect. It is an interesting story, but dark, full of mysterious and supernatural happenings, obsession and murder. 17 year old David Martin's desire was to be a writer. The editor of the newspaper gave him his first break by having him write a fictional crime story for the newspaper. When he is 20, he is hired to write penny dreadfuls (lurid serial stories) under a pseudonym. From the money he makes from writing the dreadfuls, he rents a huge, abandoned house called the Tower House. When he first enters the home, it looks like someone had simply walked out, abandoning it in the middle of drinking coffee and reading. No one had ever bother to clean out the house and it seems frozen in time.

He falls in love with the bookstore owner's daughter. But she falls for and married his mentor Pedro Vidal. She talks David into rewriting Pedro's current book because it is a disaster and she wants him to be happy. David nearly kills himself from exhaustion working on both his book and Pedro's book and ends up with a brain tumor. When his book and Pedro's are published at the same time, Pedro's is a best selling hit and his book, panned and left to rot in the warehouse.

Through the years, he had been getting mysterious notes from a publisher, Andreas Corelli, editor of Editions de la Lumiere. When he finally breaks down and visits with Corelli, the man promises him all he could possibly want if he will write a book that people with live and die for. David finds himself inexplicably healed from the brain tumor, but while writing the book, life takes a dark turn. The body count starts rising, people start acting nuts, mysterious things happen, there is something evil about the house and David life and soul is in danger. It is a very, very, very interesting story, so chilling at times it gave me goose bumps. I will definitely be reading Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind at some point.Highly recommended.

Just to give you a sense of the story, an excerpt from chapter one, the first two paragraphs.

"A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.

My first time came one faraway day in December 1917. I was seventeen and worked at The Voice of Industry, a newspaper which had seen better days and now languished in a barn of a building that had once housed a sulphuric acid factory. The walls still oozed the corrosive varpour that ate away at furniture and clothes, sapping the spirits, consuming even the soles of shoes. The newspaper's headquarters rose behind the forest of angels and crosses of the Pueblo Nuevo cemetery; from afar, its outline merged with the mausoleums silhouetted against the horizon--a skyline twilight of scarlet and black above Barcelona."

"The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was just released in the United States as of June 16, 2009. Thank you for Shelf Awareness, Doubleday and Carlos Ruiz Zafon for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. For more about the book and the author, go to The Angels Game.

Pages: 544
Publisher: Doubleday
Released: First U.S. edition - June 16, 2009
Genre: historical fiction

Other thoughts about the book:

Chris at Book-o-rama:
"The Angel's Game is dripping in atmosphere. It's Super Gothic, an old-fashioned creepy tale. I felt like I was in the 1920s. I could feel the buildings hovering over me, see the dark streets and alleyways as I read."

Seth of The Book Catapult:
"therein lies the brilliance to this novel - the questions abound, yet Ruiz Zafon never insults the reader by stooping so low as to fully, categorically explain the answers. You are left to find your own way out of the labyrinth - a pleasant fate for a reader to have to face."

Kristen at We Be Reading:
"Just as I thought would happen, once I started reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón's new novel, The Angel's Game, I couldn't put it down."


  1. I have to read The Shadow of the Wind for sure this summer and then i would love to venture into this one!!

  2. I have this one to review, as well. Now, I'm really looking forward to it!


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