Summary and book reviews of The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Angel's Game

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Book Summary

“The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen . . .”

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.

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.

Excerpt
The Angel's Game

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 that had seen bet­ter days and now languished in a barn of a building that had once housed a sulfuric acid factory. The walls still oozed the corrosive vapor that ate away at furniture and clothes, sapping the spirits, consuming even the soles of shoes. The newspaper&...

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About This Guide

The author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind returns with The Angel’s Game, a dazzling portrait of Barcelona in the 1920s - and a labyrinth of allies and villains, lovers and legends who take us on a wondrous literary adventure. The millions of readers who savored The Shadow of the Wind will delight in being transported to familiar haunts - including the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the bookshop founded by the Sempere family - while discovering a previous generation of characters. Those who are experiencing the fiction of Carlos Ruiz Zafón for the first time will find themselves mesmerized by the dangerous liaisons brewing in The Angel’s Game. This is the story of David Martín, a...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

For readers who loved The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel's Game will not disappoint. Zafón delves into philosophy, questions of good and evil, the purposes of literature and the personal tragedies that underlie society's troubles. The novel is a page turner that also addresses the issues of the world with intelligence, wonder and even humor. Who can resist a book about books, writing, love and danger?   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

Full Review Members Only (1278 words).

Media Reviews
Corriere Della Sera magazine (Italy)

The Dickens of Barcelona ... Every line has the flavor and explosive power of gunpowder, blood, ghosts and curses.

Literarische Welt (Germany)

Just as he did in The Shadow of the Wind, Zafón leads the reader, in this hybrid of romance and tragedy, to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, through a labyrinth of love and passion, of deception and intrigue. And once more the language, as grandiloquent as it is beautiful, creates a magic spell that's almost impossible to break.

Sunday Times - Hugo Barnacle

The subtext is sly but obvious: the true Faustian bargain is Zafon’s own. He wanted to write authentic masterpieces or, failing that, good honest thrillers; instead, he sold his soul to produce meretricious and slightly pernicious million-selling middlebrow tosh such as this.

The Telegraph - Mark Sanderson

Pseudo-profound statements clog many conversations ... and the endless literary references – 'Don’t pull a Jane Eyre on me, Señor Sempere’ – become irritating. It’s as if Zafón is trying to be Dan Brown for those who have read something other than tabloids. The disappointing result is just a bloated beach-read about hassles in Spain.

The Financial Times - Zoë Slutzky

At times the candlelight and creaking hinges come on too strong, and as the novel nears its end, it spirals into Grand Guignol. But its faith in the power of fiction is endearing, and addictive.

The Guardian - Giles Tremlett

He takes us into sinful corners, indulging fantasies that are erotic, magical or violent. In the end Zafón is the tempter. Many will fall for his vigorous and exhaustingly relentless story-telling.

The Times - Margaret Reynolds

If you know your 19th-century melodrama there are pleasures in this novel, but readers with other penchants will be taken, too. There are Dan Brown puzzles and Mean Street realisms, there are quirky contemplative philosophies and — best of all — intriguing aphorisms: 'Envy is the religion of the mediocre'”; 'You end up becoming what you see in the eyes of those you love.'

Kirkus Reviews

A nice fit with the current craze for learned mysteries and for spooks of both the spying and the spectral kind.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Fans of Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel.

The Los Angeles Times - Nick Owchar

The Angel's Game is a strange creature, a literary centaur in which a meditation on the craft of writing is combined with a thriller about David Martín, a master of pulp and Grand Guignol.

Narnes and Noble Reviews

Readers who appreciate books, romance, and intrigue will find this novel a subtle, unforgettable, and satisfying page-turner.

USA Today - Carol Memmott

Like Shadow of the Wind, Zafon's latest novel is a masterfully written love affair with books and words as well as an obsessive tribute to passionate love.

Reader Reviews
William

Creepy thriller - No Sophomore Jinx
Although there are plenty of holes in the plot, loose ends not tied up, I enjoyed this second effort of Zafon's. The narrative is surprisingly compelling, the author kept me turning the pages, There are enough scenes in dark towers, cemeteries and ...   Read More

Jim

He's Done It Again!!!
How does he do it? Another masterpiece from Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Another brilliant homage to books and reading. Another novel rich with language, amazing characters, and fraught with mystery and adventure. If you liked The Shadow of the Wind;, you ...   Read More

Brenda

The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
If you were a fan of Zafon’s first book “The Shadow of the Wind,” then pull up a comfortable chair, turn off the phone, and get the popcorn and snacks ready because you’re in for another treat. He brings us a mesmerizing Gothic tale of lost love, ...   Read More

Carolyn

Another book not to be forgotten
Although this novel includes the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, it is not a sequel to the author’s popular novel The Shadow of the Wind. It is set in Barcelona and includes many elements of a gothic horror story: old houses, hidden rooms, secrets, ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

A Short History of Barcelona
Barcelona, Spain's second largest city after Madrid, is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in the North East of Spain (map) and a major economic center for finance, business, media, arts and international trade.  Its location on the Mediterranean coast brings it mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers.  With a population of 1.6 million it is the eleventh most populated city in the European Union and the sixth-most populous urban area (after Paris, London, Ruhr Area, Madrid and Milan) with almost 5 million people living in the Barcelona metropolitan area.

Legend has it that the city was founded by either the mythical Hercules, or around 250 BC by the Carthaginian ...

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