The Angel’s Game

I’m a Carlos Ruiz Zafon convert. I’m pretty sure that I’m at the point in my love affair with his work that I will read anything that he ever writes. I still have The Prisoner of Heaven (the third book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series) on my shelves waiting for me. The only thing keeping me from devouring it right now is that I know that I will be sad when I am done reading them for the first time. I’m trying to savour the experience. For once.

The Angel’s Game is the first book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series. I read the second one first, completely by accident. Because I read them out of order, reading The Angel’s Game was a different experience. I kept looking out for characters that I might recognize from The Shadow of the Wind. It happens, but not too much because they are two completely separate stories. Kind of like The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.

This time we follow David Martin as he discovers his talents as a writer, first creating penny dreadfuls that pay the bills and then working on what he believes will be his masterpiece. When that flops, a French publisher offers him an obscene amount of money to write a book for him. Martin, blinded by his own vanity, agrees and ends up in the middle of a completely warped Barcelona at the mercy of a psycho.

More or less.

Martin soon becomes completely obsessed with the story of his predecessor and tries to find out what happened to him 25 years earlier. When the people involved in that story end up dead, the police arrive to further complicate things.

I’m totally oversimplifying here. I haven’t even mentioned the mentor, the girl he loves, Senor Sempere the first or Martin’s delightfully obstinate assistant, Isabella. But I also don’t want to give too much away!

What’s clear is that Zafon loves books and stories and that makes me love him. While The Shadow of the Wind was a love letter to the physical book, told from the perspective of a book seller, The Angel’s Game is an ode to the story told by that person tortured by the need to tell it perfectly: the author.

I’m not sure that I totally understand how this one all worked out. There was a seriously sinister mystical element to this one that was missing from it’s sequel. But even though its resolution is somewhat of a mystery to me, I loved it. Someone else is just going to have to read it, understand it, and explain it to me.

Despite the fact that The Angel’s Game is a completely separate story from its sequel, I loved that at the end of this one it overlapped with the beginning of the next one. It offered a connection that I wasn’t expecting when I realized that the stories had nearly nothing to do with one another.

You should just read this series. It’s incredible. The covers alone are worth it – they all look like exquisite old books.


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