I wasn’t sure how I would find The Angel’s Game after the excellent, if not involved and sometimes confusing plot, of The Shadow of the Winds. However, after reading the first two pages I knew this book was going to surpass and excel beyond “Shadows” and it did not disappoint, I could barely put it down.
What I love most about this book is the rich, poetic, elegant flow of words that help to create this magnificent tale of a writer who sells his soul, perhaps for fame, for money or both by being given a commission to write a book. This work is like no other, from a mysterious publisher for a vast sum of money. From the start Carlos Ruiz Zafon makes it clear what he is trying to say. For a man’s ego, sometimes he is prepared to do anything, even with his own near destruction at stake.
The depth of how the author created the characters and how each one was woven and intertwined with the story is something that Zafon does superbly. You could feel the desperate obsessive love that David Martin, the central character, feels for Cristina and how this relationship unfolds. You are not sure at first how the added relationship of Isabella is going to go, this held me the most, and I wanted to cry when reading her last letter to him. This was truly moving and haunting words so tragic and so authentic feeling real to me.
David Martin was intellectually a sharp and essentially good man, yet numbed by years of being let down and abused, he was turned into a character of coldness and unfeeling at times, seen especially in his interactions with his doting young assistant Isabella. Yet, his drive to survive and to find the truth concerning the darkness of where he lived, that was linked with his own work, gave this novel a sometimes creepy, supernatural air about it. Turing into a detective tale set in a Gothic theme, this enriched the whole fabric of the novel and gave the plot a nail-biting feel. Just when you thought there was nothing new to add, a twist emerged and you were once again thrown head long into the pages of a tale intense and demanding to its audience. You had to concentrate, otherwise you would lose the thread of the plot.
Then the end: how strange. I read it twice and could not take it in. Had I missed something? For me, it left unanswered questions and a feeling that suddenly where it had been convincing it became a non-reality. Why has Zafon done this other reviewers have asked? It was a clever turn and the author’s notes for discussion could say why. Who was the publisher? I have my thoughts which would make the end plausible. Never-the-less I am hooked. I can forgive him for the ending though as I want to read much more from this man. It is hinted in reviews that with the completion of the four novels Zafon prepares to write, the end of The Angel’s Game slots into place. Is this up Zafon’s sleeve? Knowing his writing a little then nothing would surprise me.
If you want a book where you can enjoy some history, feel the city of Barcelona on your finger tips, with skilled and crafted writing around a great plot then read Zafon. It’s poetry from a pen and characters that come alive. It is the only novel on finishing that I felt I want to read again and along with it The Shadow of the Winds. I was not aware that The Angel’s Game was joined to “Shadows” until the final twists at the end. It was an Ahh moment. They can be read alone or as a complete story, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books being the cement that link and binds them together. A great find for me in fiction, like no other for a long time. For a thinking mind it is a great read.
(The images are photographs taken at the Monastry of Pedralbes visited at the time of reading and one area featured in the author’s work. The angels are a perfect choice of picture for this blog I felt.)