In The Angel's Game, Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón continued his gothic tale for The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This mystery novel, set in Barcelona, is a prequel to the international best-seller, The Shadow of the Wind. I read The Shadow of the Wind a couple of weeks ago and I loved every page in it. I ventured into The Angel's Game with a high expectation. The result? I opine, while The Angel's Game is an excellent novel but it came slightly short of the high bar set by The Shadow of the Wind.
In the vibrant city of Barcelona stood an abandoned tower house, its walls and bricks echoed with the memory of its owner's death. Meanwhile, David Martin, a budding novelist, took residence in this forsaken mansion and made a living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym.
The recollections of a troubled childhood tormented David, and he also struggled with an impossible love. Soon, not even his books could shelter him from the onslaught of despair. When David's world reached the point of collapse, he received an invitation from a French publisher, Andreas Corelli, to write a book so powerful that can change hearts and minds.
My thoughts on this book:
In The Angel's Game, Zafón wrote as beautifully as in The Shadow of the Wind. This book was written in Spanish and translated into English by Lucia Graves, who did a sterling job at translating the book. Every sentence was pleasurable to read. Zafón described Barcelona vividly. The writings painted the city with a vibe that highlighted the story's themes; mysterious, gothic, yet lively. Furthermore, Zafón also gave each character a well-rounded portrayal. Meanwhile, the first person narrative took us (the readers) on a Faustian journey with David Martin, who is the protagonist in the book.
In The Shadow of the Wind, the author used flashbacks to unveil the answers to the mysteries. The Angel's Game, on the other hand, told the story differently. This book took on a more traditional approach for mystery storytelling; it kept the answers hidden until the last few chapters. In other words, in The Shadow of the Wind, you sit back and the book will give you all the information. Whereas in The Angel's Game, Zafón kept the final piece of the puzzle very close to his chest, only to be revealed at the story's conclusion. While this book shared some similarities with the works from Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens, but I believe Zafón is in his own league. The is a story about undying love and meditations on religion, but it also reflected the themes from the likes of Dorian Gray and Faust. I enjoyed thinking, and reading, about the symbolisms in this book. This is a stimulating read.
It suffices to say, I had a love affair with the first 80% of the book. The story's climax was full of twists and turns. However, this is also where I would subtract a few points from the book; while the story concluded in a most unexpected, thought-provoking manner, but I thought it was... overly ambiguous. Admittedly, when I finished this book, I could not fully grasp the meaning of its ending. Therefore, I took it to the internet and put more thoughts into it, only then did the ending started to make sense to me. Some readers may enjoy this sort of ending, while others may find it slightly frustrating. What exactly is the ending in this book? I will let the would-be readers discover it for themselves. However, if you do (or, have) read The Angel's Game, then I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on what the ending means.
The Angel's Game is indeed a worthy prequel to The Shadow of the Wind. I am adding Carlos Ruiz Zafón to my list of favorite authors. I recommend this book, not only to those who are fond of mystery and gothic novels, but to anyone who loves a good book.