A few summers back, I wandered into my local Barnes & Noble. I was hoping to interview with a literary agent the next week and wanted to read one of the books she represented. While looking for that one, I stopped the display for Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Angel’s Game.With a title like that, I couldn’t not pick it up and skim the back.
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.
I was hooked. I wanted to buy the book right then. Then I noticed The Shadow of the Wind on the table beside it. That one was in paperback while the other was in hardcover. I set down The Angel’s Game and picked up The Shadow of the Wind. In case you’re wondering, I also bought the book I game in for which was title, Something Missing (also good, might do a review in the future).
The book sat on my shelf for awhile. It wasn’t until Christmas that I started it. And I fell in love.
At this date, I’ve read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel’s Game. I own The Prince of the Mist, but I haven’t read it yet. Zafon has utterly captivated me. I simply cannot believe only three of his books are available in English. Simply put, his work is fantastic. Every time I’ve recommended his novels, I’ve scored a hit.
Zafon has a lurid and lush writing style. He composes sentences that twist and fold in upon themselves like the shadowy streets of his romantic Barcelona. Zafon plans to write a four-book series that involve the mysterious place called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Literature is involved at every level in his work. From this secret library sort of place to the readers who delve in its works to the bookseller and his son to the young author, Zafon paints the world of the bibliophile with love. And Barcelona is the perfect backdrop for it all. Beyond Paris and London, it is one of those cities infused with the romanticism of the nineteenth century.
One of my friends said his work was very cinematic. This is true, but it’s not cinematic in the Hollywood blockbuster sort of style. The Barcelona Zafon creates for the readers is as vivid and colorful as a reel of film.
Although this is an author spotlight, I’m going to briefly comment on the two novels I’ve read. Both are considered to be for adults. His previous works, including The Prince of the Mist and his untranslated works, are geared towards young adults. Of the two novels, I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind a little more. The Angel’s Game is dark and twisted, much more so than the preceding book. While both books deal in the currencies of sadness, regret, and memory, The Angel’s Game provides little respite from those hard-hitting overtones. However, I would easily recommend both books.
Book Blogger Thoughts:
The Shadow of the Wind at Jo’s County Junction
The Shadow of the Wind at I Hug My Books
The Angel’s Game at Compulsive Reader
The Angel’s Game at My Wordly Obsessions