Book Review: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted on: April 7, 2013

ImageThe Angel’s Game has its undeniable Carlos Ruiz Zafon literary genius all over it, albeit much darker than the Shadow of the Wind. The protagonist, David Martin, is a writer with a troubled childhood, who made a living out of writing sensationalist novels (under a pseudonym) that explored the deepest darkest mysteries of the city’s ‘underworld. In exchange for a hefty pay check, he agreed to write a book (described to have the power to change peoples’ hearts and minds) for a mysterious almost Phantom-ish French publisher named Andreas Corelli. What transpired next and in the most part of the book is a chain of sinister plots, deaths and murders, which Martin vowed to resolve but left him all the more broken and confused. I got quite confused, myself, to be honest.

Though I liked SOTW much better than this instalment, I am still in-love with Zafon’s prose. His description of the mystic early 20th century Barcelona, for one, is so vivid (shadowy arches, puffs of mists, darkened stone and dried-up fountains) that it has the ability to transport the reader back in the era, in that strange foreign land. I love how he revived the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere and Sons bookshop, giving SOTW fans like me quite a reminiscing of his first great piece. I adore Isabelle’s character more than his supposed true love in the story, Cristina. Martin and Isabelle’s quirky moments as boss and assistant-turned-friends gives off a light, warm feeling – a much needed break from the wicked-heavy plot.

The first half of the book had me clinging on to the pages but it got quite confusing as you near the end that made me put down the book numerous times. I feel like the story is peppered with too many characters – most of whom can be easily forgotten and didn’t contribute to the purpose of the story. I missed having SOTW’s Fermin Romero De Torres who is actually a page-turner, making the readers hungry for his words.

But don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of good quotes to savour in the book from the wisest:
“Envy is the religion of the mediocre. It comforts them, it soothes their worries, and finally it rots their souls, allowing them to justify their meanness and their greed until they believe these to be virtues. Such people are convinced that the doors of heaven will be opened only to poor wretches like themselves who go through life without leaving any trace but their threadbare attempts to belittle others and to exclude – and destroy if possible – those who, by the simple fact of their existence, show up their own poorness of spirit, mind, and guts. Blessed be the one at whom the fools bark, because his soul will never belong to them.”

… to the wittiest:
“Silence makes idiots seem wise even for a minute.”

Overall, I would still recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of books and into dark mysterious novels. But if you haven’t read the SOTW, I strongly suggest you have a go at it first for a true taste of Zafon’s genius.


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