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

A warm summer afternoon in Damascus demands no less than losing oneself to the pages of a book. I stretched out on the balcony, amidst a light breeze and under the golden glow of the sun, to read The Angel’s Game, the new masterpiece by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of Shadow of the Wind, a book that held me captive to its timeless tale a few years back.

The sound of car horns and traffic gradually faded away as I was absorbed into the world of David Martín, a writer amidst the turbulent and gothic 1920’s Barcelona, the mysterious circumstances, his house, and the sinister and playful characters around him.

Like Shadow of the Wind, the centerpiece puzzle of the story is in a book that has been retrieved from The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a hidden, secret library that is home to a labyrinth of books that would have otherwise been destroyed and forgotten. Unlike Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game is a far more sinister and mysteriously interesting read.

The cleverly written plot, told in the first person from David’s perspective, crosses the lines between what is real and what is perceptually feasible, and even metaphysically impossible. The encounters with Andreas Corelli, the unusual antagonist – for the lack of a better term – are peculiarly intense, often filled with philosophical and theological arguments that would further change the course of the story, and David’s psyche, which, I believe, is the main antagonist. These chilling, schizophrenic stretches of narration are split by a troubled (and frightening) love story, interesting well-developed relationships with other characters, and a very endearing friendship between David and Isabella, his apprentice, which form the bulk of the much needed comedy.

As the story progresses, it becomes impossible to put down – I had to finish the book in three sittings, across three days, out of fear of forgetting the minute details that make the story’s convoluted plot. Relationships, people, events, and even Shadow of the Wind (though no prior reading is required, the final puzzle piece snaps in if you did) all seemingly irrelevant and scattered, become intertwined, either in David’s mind or in reality – one could not tell until the very last paragraph of the book – all set against a beautiful yet morbidly dark Barcelona.

It’s a book that’s certainly should not be missed.

  • Katia

    I haven't read the Angel's Game yet though I loved reading the Shadow of the Wind. A “mysterious Barcelona” kind of review quote was all I needed to pick it up. The Angel's Game is for my next couple of days off :-)

    By the way, since you seem to like Zafón and his books, here are a few of his compositions to go along with some of his mysterious places and characters:

  • Hamza

    This book is the latest that I’ve added it to my library.

    I should do the same. Read it over a short period of time so that I don’t lose the details. :)

  • Alisha

    This review captures my feelings about this book entirely. I also read it within the last few days & was spellbound, confused and feel like I ended the book with more questions than answers. Shadow of the Wind is my favorite book of all time & I consider Zafón to be a sort of mad genius when it comes to writing. Anyway, I just wanted to say nice review & I agree with what you say!

  • jarofjuice

    Thank you! It is also one of my favourite books of all time. Glad to hear the review did it justice :)