The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

the-angels-game-carlos-ruiz-zafonIt’s no secret that Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of my favourite authors, all my friends know this, because I can’t shut up about how much I love this author’s work, especially his adult fiction. I first discovered his work with The Shadow of the Wind and fell in love with the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  Obviously, I just had to read the second instalment in the series.  Zafón is the author of 3 adult fiction novels and in recent years his young adult fiction, which he wrote long before The Shadow of the Wind, were also translated into English.  Being a fan of his work, I read the young adult fiction too. The recent one, The Watcher in the Shadows, I finished about two weeks ago. Instead of posting a review on that one, I decided to review the rest of the books in The Cemetery of Forgotten series first.

As oppose to The Shadow of the Wind that takes you into the realm of the 1945 Barcelona Spain after the Spanish Civil War, The Angel’s Game takes you back even further to the 1920 right before it all started. Just like Shadow of the Wind, I love the vivid and beautiful manner in which Carlos explains and describes his beloved Barcelona. It feels like you are actually there walking along with the characters in the Gothic quarter and experiencing the Cemetery of forgotten books for yourself.

The story is about an author, David Martin, who writes baroque novels under a pseudonym. One day he receives a letter from a French editor, namely Andreas Corelli, who makes him an offer that he cannot refused: He must write a book, create a new religion.  Later (not sooner) he discovers that all is not what it seems when he is being pulled into situations beyond his control. He soon starts questioning who Andreas Corelli really is, and so do I…

This book is more mysterious, suspenseful and darker than what The Shadow of the Wind was, with a dark gothic element to the story. In the beginning of reading this book I was convinced that this book is so much better than The Shadow of the Wind, mainly because it contained more mystery. There were times while I was reading the book (as late as 2am and 3am into the night as I just couldn’t put it down) that the story became so suspenseful that I literally get shivers down my spine, all thanks to the omnipresent Andreas Corelli.

As I reached the end of the book I was slightly disappointed, not because the book was bad… in fact its beautifully written, but I felt that it left too many unanswered questions. None the less, its another excellent offering from my favourite author Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

“Every book has a soul, the soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and dream about it.”

“Do you know the best thing about broken hearts?” the librarian asked, I shook my head. “They can only really break once, the rest is just scratches”

(I agree)

“I stepped into the bookshop and breathed in that perfume of paper and magic that strangely no one had ever thought of bottling.”

PS: Speaking of the cemetery of forgotten books, as I am very captivated about the story about it and the whole atmosphere in which Carlos captures it I went snooping onto his website (not the UK official website) and there is a link to The Cemetry of Lost Books, if you click on one of the locks it opens up and shows you the labyrinth… How cool!!??

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  • I loved ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ but couldn’t get into this one at all. Perhaps it was just the wrong time for this particular book and I should try again.

    • Out of the 3 books, I also love The Shadow of the Wind the best. If you do read The Angel’s Game again, maybe read it without expectations, because it’s very different from Shadow 🙂

  • Love these books- but yes- this was my least favorite. I do want to reread them all- does it make sense to reread in the order they came out of in chronological order, do you think?

    • Love these books too, and yes The Angel’s Game was my least favourite, but I still enjoyed the writing. I think you can read them in any order actually. I’ve already read Shadow and Angel twice! I want to read Prisoner of Heaven again 😀

  • I’m not sure I’ve commented on your blog before, but I often lurk! The Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourite books, but somehow I’ve never read The Angel’s Game. However, it is sitting on my bookshelf, and as I’ve finished university for the year I may well read it. The quotes you’ve mentioned do sound good.

    I’m not sure if the character called Corelli would make me want to re-read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (again)…

    • Hi Lucy. I think this is your first comment, but thanks for lurking 🙂
      The Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourite books too! You should consider reading the rest of the books in the Cemetery of Forgotten Series. I love his quotes, they really are great. I haven’t read Corelli’s Mandolin yet 🙁

  • therelentlessreader

    Wonderful quotes! :*) I haven’t read this author and I’m not sure what I’m waiting for? My tbr pile to magically reduce I suppose 😉

    • I really love his quotes! I also don’t know what you are waiting for! 😉 If you do, start with The Shadow of the Wind 🙂

  • I’ve never read any of his books…just don’t get them here. So frustrating when I read reviews like yours 🙁

    • Oh no! Can you not order them from amazon or on kindle? I really enjoy his books.

      • @Melinda: I could but shipping costs, and I don’t know..I could get an e-book but I usually reserve my e-books for light reads/re-reads. I am trying to keep book reading offline as much as possible…

        • I know all about shipping cost 🙁

  • I also love The shadow of the wind, and The angel’s game is one of the books I want to read this Summer.
    Very good to read your review!

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Bettina, I hope you will like The Angel’s Game when you read it 🙂

  • I had the same problem with this book. After reading it I was left with so many unanswered questions!!
    Looking forward to your review on The Prisoner of Heaven!

    • Yeah! Some questions were answered in The Prisoner of Heaven, but he is still an enigma to me. Guess what? Corelli is in The Watcher in the Shadows too!

  • I bought this book after reading (and loving) ‘Shadow’. Still haven’t read it though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • I hope you like it better than I do 🙂

  • I think The Prisoner of Heaven was REALLY great, too! It’s worth picking up quickly.

    • I must still review The Prisoner of Heaven! Soon to come 🙂

  • Wonderful blog..Loved how tasteful all of it is..Intend to stop by often. Have not read any of authors here but would love to.

  • This sounds like a beautiful book! I will definitely have to read it.

    • Hope you will like it. Maybe read The Shadow of the Wind first?

  • I’m still reading shadow of the wind at the moment and it is GOOD. I might look into this one as well because so far Carlos Ruiz Zafon is living up to the hype

    • I am so glad!! I really hope you like the ending of the book. I do hope that it inspires you the rest the rest of the series (The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven) 🙂

  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of those authors I’ve intended to read for a while, but I never make the time–sadly. I hear his Cemetery of Forgotten Books is really good, and it certainly sounds amazing. I hope I get around to reading one of his books soon. Great review!

    • Thank you! I really love Zafón’s adult fiction. I love the series and my favourite book out of the 3 is definitely The Shadow of the Wind. I hope he writes more in this series! I also hope you get to read The Shadow of the Wind soon and I hope you like it.

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  • chris

    I loved Shadow of the Wind but felt very frustrated with The Angel’s Game. It was wonderfully atmospheric and suspensful but I finished wondering whether David was crazy and had committed all those dreadful crimes himself. It just didn’t make sense. Nevertheless I will certainly read the other books. Thanks so much for the forum, I was dying to get other peoples’ opinions.

    • I agree, I was frustrated with the end too, but I felt a little better when I read The Prisoner of Heaven , because it answered some questions that Angel’s Game didnt. You should definitely read the 3rd book in the series.

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  • What a fabulous review! I felt the same way but you put it so much more eloquently. This one was dark enough that I haven’t moved on to Prisoner of Heaven yet- feel like I needed a break. But, oh, how he takes you into his world. Love it!

    • Thank you, Catherine! You really need to read The Prisoner of Heaven – it will make you feel better about the unanswered questions from this book 🙂

      The way he describes Barcelona is one of the reasons why I like this series and also why I want to visit the city!

  • I think I’m one of the very few people who loved Angels Game as much as Shadow of the Wind. I do think it lacked something without Fermin, but the style was so intriguing – adopting the form of the penny dreadfuls Martin himself wrote. I was disappointed about the lack of answers at the end too, but with 2 books left in the series, I hold hope that they will come 🙂 Great review!

    • Thanks Emma! I know some people didn’t enjoy this one as much, but you know what…despite the ending I was unhappy about, I have enjoyed the read, so I can’t fault the book that much. When I read The Prisoner of Heaven and found that some of my answers about The Angel’s Game were answered, I was much happier 🙂 I can’t wait for the fourth book either!