Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón - Afterwords

Afterwords is my review. Forewords about the book may interest you too.

Hardcover: 544 pages

Publisher: Doubleday (June 16, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0385528701

ISBN-13: 978-0385528702

"...if Shadow of the Wind is the nice, good girl in the family, The Angel’s Game would be the wicked gothic stepsister."

That's how Zafon describes this novel of high suspense about books and writing, desire and ambition. It seems he's planned a series.

"to give each book a different personality, to show some of the same characters at different times in their lives. Since these books were, in part, about the world of literature, books, reading and language, I thought it would be interesting to use the different novels to explore those themes through different angles and to add new layers to the meaning of the stories.

...four different novels. They would be stand-alone stories that could be read in any order. I saw them as a Chinese box of stories with four doors of entry, a labyrinth of fictions that could be explored in many directions, entirely or in parts, and that could provide the reader with an additional layer of enjoyment and play. These novels would have a central axis, the idea of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, set against the backdrop of a highly stylized, gothic and mysterious Barcelona.

The Angel’s Game is a new book, a stand-alone story that you can fully enjoy and understand on its own. But if you have already read The Shadow of the Wind, or you decide to read it afterwards, you’ll find new meanings and connections that I hope will enhance your experience with these characters and their adventures.

The Angel’s Game has many games inside, one of them with the reader. It is a book designed to make you step into the storytelling process and become a part of it. In other words, the wicked, gothic chick wants your blood."

I have not read The Shadow of the Wind, this is not my usual genre. So I quote extensively because his explanation, though overblown, explains it all much better than I can.

I enjoyed the story. Its minor characters are so well developed that I often found them much more interesting than David Martin, our young writer. Their feelings and motivations seemed more fleshed out. After getting into writing David puts out a series of potboilers that the public eats up but are known only under a pen name. David can write well, he even writes a great book for a friend and no one knows him as the writer of that book either. The Sempere and Sons Bookshop figures large in the story, so does the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and a woman he will do anything for. An offer from a French editor to write the book of a lifetime, a book that can change the world, lures our protagonist into the dark, gothic side of ambition. There is an element of fantasy to the novel which threw me, only because nothing outside the real world ever happens in my usual reading, so I didn't clue in to what was happening on one level. I suspect that Zafon's readers like that he will go in any direction to sustain a story. And it's certainly an interesting story.

It's set in Barcelona, about two decades earlier than The Shadow of the Wind. The story moved quickly enough that it did not feel like a long novel, it made you want to know what's going to happen next. The novel is a mystery but a highly evolved one, with intrigue, romance, tragedy, and with much more at stake for our protagonist than is usual. I think people are going to enjoy this book for the most part. It's not perfect, but it's a fun read. Four stars out of five. I recommend it.

Have you read The Angel's Game? What did you think? Any plans to read it? If you've reviewed it, leave me a link, I'd love to read it.

Have you read other books by Zafon, and which do you recommend? The Shadow of the Wind-did you love it or hate it? No Spoilers please.


  1. I've read (and reviewed) both Angel's Game and Shadow of the Wind. While I quite liked both, Shadow is by far my favorite of the two. My review of Angel's Game:

  2. I haven't read Angel's Game-yet- but I plan to and I enjoyed your review. Shadow of the Wind was one of my favorites last year- LOVED IT. I had it in my TBR pile for two years and when I read it I was like, why did I wait so long? You would love it. Read-alikes are Possession and Name of the Rose. read it Sandra please! :-)

  3. I haven't read either book yet but both are on my TBR list. I was not aware that Zafon intended them to be a series of sorts. Now I know to make sure to read Shadows first. Thanks for the heads up!

  4. I read Shadow of the Wind last year and it was one of my favorite reads for 2008. I won The Angel's Game, so I'm looking forward to reading it!

  5. I have Shadow of the Wind in my collection and I am looking forward to reading both of these.

  6. Hi Sandra

    I just reviewed Angel's Game. I had read Shadow of the Wind and was just waiting for this one. A great read for me.....

  7. I haven't read either of the 2~ i need to get to them soon!

  8. I haven't read either book yet. I had Angel's Game from the library but had to turn it back in before I got to it. The book club I am in is reading Shadow of the Wind in the next few months. I'm really looking forward to it.

  9. I have read this book last year (in German) and it was really a great read. I enjoyed it very much! Thanks for the review!

  10. I actually hadn't heard of Zafón before I started blogging, but now I can't wait to read it. I borrowed my mother's copy of The Shadow of the Wind and plan to get to it soon.

  11. I have not read anything by this author, but I've heard that both The Angel's Game and Shadow are well written, though some prefer the first book Shadow, which is usually how it goes with sequels, right?

  12. Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourite books of all time. I haven't been brave enough to start Angels Game yet!

  13. Read (and reviewed here:!

    Loved it! Shadow of the Wind left us all with some pretty specific expectations of Ruiz. But The Angel's Game, I think, is equally brilliant in its own right.

    For the record, Ruiz is writing four books in this series - not necessarily dependent on each other but sort of linked. Note the reappearance of Sempere & Sons.

    I have met Ruiz twice so you might want to check out my review for my thoughts on Ruiz, the person, not just the writer. Incidentally, he composed a musical score as an accompaniment to The Angel's Game and it is gorgeous. Find it at my website.

  14. I LOVED The Shadow of the Wind and I've been eagerly waiting for a copy of Angel's Game to become available on Paperbackswap. It's finally on its way to me and I can't wait to dive in. Thanks for the great review and definitely pick up Shadow of the Wind when you get a chance.

  15. I have read both The Angel's Game and The Shadow of the Wind. SotW is one of my favorite novels of all time. I loved it that much. I think even though the novels can be read in any order, you appreciate the characters and the setting so much more by reading both.

    FYI - Zafon is known as a YA author, and one of his YA books is going to be published in English and comes out in May (I believe) called Prince of the Mist. If you're a Zafon fan, you might want to check it out!

  16. I just finished The Angel's Game and I'm putting my review up this week. I really enjoyed it, though Shadow is definitely my favorite. I can't wait to see what he has in store for the other two books in the series.

    I think it's a fascinating way to approach the books, all connected, but they can also stand alone. They enhance each other, but aren't dependent upon one another. Great review!

  17. I am waiting for Angel's Game at the moment but I am wondering if you have read any of his YA books which have now been translated and are avauilable in English.

    Do you think they will be good reads as well ?

    Carol T



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