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The Angel's Game (2008)

by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,235387869 (3.68)406
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martin, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. Close to despair, he receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime--write a book unlike anything that has ever existed--a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.… (more)
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» See also 406 mentions

English (320)  Spanish (19)  Dutch (16)  German (8)  Italian (8)  French (6)  Norwegian (3)  Swedish (2)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (387)
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
I loved getting in to the dark, steampunk atmosphere of this novel. I'm an admitted lover of Spain, so I went into it with some positive bias. Plus, I purchased the book (in Spanish) in Madrid, so who wouldn't love a book with all those good connotations going for it?
The first 7/8 of the book is smoky, gothic fun. I loved getting to know the characters and the landscape of old Barcelona.


But (and there's always a 'but' when you can see that I rated it three stars) the plot lost me. I thought it was maybe just because I was reading it in castilian, but nope. I went to the library here, checked it out in English, reread over half of it in case I had missed something and was still trying to figure out what the hell happened by the time I finished. the character count grew rapidly and I couldn't keep up without making a chart of some kind, which I was not about to do.
Near the end this book starts trying to be a movie, desperately.
( )
  gakgakg | May 28, 2020 |
While I enjoyed this novel, and listening to it on audiobook form, I have to say that it just doesn't seem to me to be as good as the first novel in the series. I am a patient reader. I enjoy ornate prose and the occasional serving of melodrama. But this novel left me feeling so confused, I think I now need each and every element of a plot spelled out for me. This means that I loved nearly every melodramatic moment of the first in Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, but with this second novel, I am left somewhat wanting.

My overwhelmingly positive experience of The Shadow of the Wind means that I really looked forward to reading this second novel in the series. Set some twenty years before The Shadow of the Wind, it starts out wonderfully. Ruiz Zafon creates a sinister, threatening atmosphere within the architectural splendour of Barcelona. David Martin is an interesting character, as is the main antagonist. There are discussions of religion, the importance of books and reading and the nature of love. Reading this novel, I was carried away to Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War and thoroughly enjoyed Ruiz Zafon's magical prose, yet again.
However, it all falls apart at about the halfway point. There's too much ambiguity and too many people in it, for me. By the end, I had no idea what was going on. I listened to the audiobook edition, which is very well narrated by Dan Stevens, whose voice is a rich buttercream topping served on a decadent dessert that is this prose. His narrating skills are so top-notch, I'm half tempted to read the children's novels my library has, just in order to hear his voice. But the plot of this novel is a little too messy for me to keep everything straight in my head. And by the time I get to the end of the novel, and I'm left wondering if I have missed something......

It's not as if the novel has nothing going for it. The prose is great, the translation by Lucia Graves is excellent, and the threatening, rather Gothic atmosphere Ruiz Zafon creates jump off the page. I'll definitely go on to read the third book in the series, The Prisoner of Heaven, if for no other reason than I'm hoping it will explain what this novel was all about.
4 stars, but not recommended unless you've read the first novel in the series. ( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Brilliant, bewitching and beguiling, worthy of the 5 stars by any measure. Whether ratings are based upon creativity and uniqueness, suspense and intrigue, plot, characterizations or on the overall quality of the writing (my own most important criteria), this book belongs in your hands and on your “I loved it list” and on the lists of truly exemplary 5 star novels.
The story unfolds slowly after the initial three chapters wherein Zafon’s writing is so lyrical, so engaging that readers cannot help but go on.
Even in the initial pages of chapter one, we meet young David Martin, the young book-obsessed only son of an illiterate and often cruel father. The adventure mores forward taking David to work for a small publisher, at last getting a chance to publish his own work and introducing him to most of the other characters who will be important in the novel.
The story slowly unravels a mystery, not of the the type solved by a detective, but of the type solved by an archaeologist or paleontologist. Clues evolve from analysis of scat evidence and become suppositions for further intrigue.
The story has everything: love, longing, subtlety, murder, miraculous escapes and even a good dose of the metaphysical and macabre. In short, it has something for everyone, but not like a buffet table filled with good but cheap food. This book is a rich banquet. The writing, the authors views on various topics, the breadth of detail and the beautiful often lyrical writing combine everything to become the kind of novel readers will never forget.
( )
  Paul-the-well-read | Apr 18, 2020 |
Last night, I listened to the end of this audiobook with tears in my eyes. I won't easily forget those last scenes.

My favorite parts of this story were the visits to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I love the idea of a place where:

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The first time someone visits this place, he must choose a book and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive."

Just reading those sentences makes my soul sigh with contentment.

I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I enjoyed Shadow of the Wind. This tale was slightly darker and more mysterious, but I thought the mystery became a little convoluted.

This was still a wonderful, beautifully written story that had me in tears more than once. What an amazing feeling that is.

Highly recommended! ( )
  Charrlygirl | Mar 22, 2020 |
This is an epic tale. Not as a fable, but more as a detective/mystery/friendship/love story. It is so well-written, that any cliché is useless against it. Sure, it contains a few usual pushes and pulls, common in detective stories, but for example, one quarter into the book, it goes into a completely (for me) direction than I expected, and it goes on like that. Not in a tiresome way, because the book really breathes; it allows the reader to go up and down and back and forth in great ways. And there's love. And people lovelorn:

Tomorrow, or perhaps the next day, I’ll write again to tell you that I love you, even if it means nothing to you.

‘I owe you much more than an explanation . . .’ ‘Then tell me about her.’ Vidal looked at me with desperate eyes that begged me to lie to him.

There's so much more to this book than I'm able to do justice to. It's truly an epic book, which is very well told. Recommended for all who like mysteries, suspense, figuring stuff out and...well, people who like to read should read this. :-) ( )
  pivic | Mar 20, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 320 (next | show all)
The result is a twisty, sarcastic ode to books, with a satisfying dollop of religious theory thrown in for good measure. On its surface, "The Angel's Game" is a thriller laden with Gothic elements, but readers who need a traditional denouement with answers neatly laid out will come away disappointed. (I definitely had a little moment of "Wait! What? Huh???" at the end.)

But while the plot payoff may not be what readers are expecting, the novel itself is such a pleasure to read that the characters could have ended with a rendition of "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow," played on cowbells and a zither, and I would have shrugged it off.
added by sduff222 | editThe Christian Science Monitor, Yvonne Zipp (Jul 11, 2009)
 
“Faust” this isn’t. Ruiz Zafón’s flamboyant pulp epic is something altogether sillier, a pact-with-the-devil tale whose only purpose is to give its readers some small intimation of the darker pleasures of the literary arts, the weird thrill of storytelling without conscience.
 
Game is a multi-layered confection that combines undying love, magical realism, meditations on religion, the importance of books and a love affair with the vibrant city of Barcelona.

Zafon hits the reset button on what it means to be a great writer. His visionary storytelling prowess is a genre unto itself.
added by sduff222 | editUSA Today, Carol Memmott (Jun 16, 2009)
 
While much of this novel is highly enjoyable, at some latter point the tongue withdraws from the cheek. In wrapping up a host of absurd sub-plots, somewhere in there the writer loses his sense of humour. When the book ceases to be self-conscious about its own manipulations, it stops being fun. This won’t bother some readers; some will happily dive into the mysticism up to the neck. But others will miss the drollery and sophistication with which the novel began, and for these readers Zafón’s straight resolution will disappoint.
 
Zafon delivers a warning about the dangers of obsession, mixed with an obvious passion for literature and the printed word; his book is also a song of love for Barcelona with all its creaking floorboards and hidden subbasements.

A nice fit with the current craze for learned mysteries and for spooks of both the spying and the spectral kind.
added by sduff222 | editKirkus Reviews (Jun 1, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ruiz Zafón, Carlosprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Arpaia, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blank, YvonneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Geel, NellekeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Graves, LuciaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Härkönen, TarjaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Partanen, AnuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwaar, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For MariCarmen, «a nation of two»
First words
A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story.
Quotations
It is part of our nature to survive. Faith is an instinctive response to aspects of existence that we cannot explain by any other means, be it the moral void we perceive in the universe, the certainty of death, the mystery of the origin of things, the meanings of our lives, or the absence of meaning. These are the basic and extremely simple aspects of existence, but our limitations prevent us from responding in an unequivocal way and for that reason we generate an emotional response, as a defense mechanism. It's pure biology.
An intellectual is usually someone who isn't exactly distinguished by his intellect. He claims that label to compensate for his inadequacies. It's as old as that saying: Tell me what you boast of and I'll tell you what you lack. Our daily bread. The incompetent always present themselves as experts, the cruel as pious, sinners as devout, usurers as benefactors, the small-minded as the patriots, the arrogant as the humble, the vulgar as elegant, and the feeble-minded as intellectual.
I'm staying here to read. Life's too short.
Silence makes even idiots seem wise for a minute.
Most people, as they grow old, continue to believe in nonsense, usually even greater nonsense. I swim against the tide because I like to annoy.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Na Barcelona turbulenta dos anos 20, um jovem escritor obcecado com um amor impossível recebe de um misterioso editor a proposta para escrever um livro como nunca existiu a troco de uma fortuna e, talvez, muito mais. Com deslumbrante estilo e impecável precisão narrativa, o autor de A Sombra do Vento transporta-nos de novo para a Barcelona do Cemitério dos Livros Esquecidos, para nos oferecer uma aventura de intriga, romance e tragédia, através de um labirinto de segredos onde o fascínio pelos livros, a paixão e a amizade se conjugam num relato magistral.
(Bullhosa books & living)
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921520523, 1921656719

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