"The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen . . ."
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martin, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.
Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to 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.
Once again, Zafon takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in the Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 2.
- Review Date: 2009-04-06
- Reviewer: Staff
Fans of Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David’s creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house—a decrepit mansion with a sinister history—he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal’s book is celebrated while David’s is buried, and when Vidal marries David’s great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón’s novel is detailed and vivid, and David’s narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June)
Zafón's latest literary game
Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón returns to the world of his international mega-seller, The Shadow of the Wind, with his latest novel, The Angel’s Game. The setting is Barcelona in the first half of the 20th century—though a fictional Barcelona, envisioned, perhaps, by Poe by way of Buñuel. The story, which has threads that bind it to the earlier novel but can be read independently, once again features the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the labyrinthian secret library where volumes languish until someone rescues them from eternal obscurity.
The liberator this time is David Martín, who as a young boy is deserted by his mother and ultimately orphaned when his abusive reprobate father is gunned downed in the street by thugs. David seeks refuge in the newspaper offices where he works as an errand boy, and soon shows his talents by writing a popular serial novel for the paper. When he is fired out of jealousy, he cleverly turns out a series of potboilers under a pseudonym. Then David is approached by a Parisian publisher, Andreas Corelli, to take on a highly lucrative commission, but because of his long-term contract with the philistine publishers of his series, he is obliged to turn down the offer. The lure of the mysterious Corelli’s money is too great, however, and as soon as David agrees to take on the project, his obstructive publishers are killed in a suspicious fire. David, of course, is a prime suspect. Byzantine complications ensue.
The work Corelli hopes David will write will provide the founding myths for a new faith. The volume that David rescues from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a theological tract, Lux Aeterna. It is safe to say that Zafón has religion on his mind in The Angel’s Game, in a somewhat more didactic purpose than he seemed to have in The Shadow of the Wind. That earlier book, with its clever blend of gothic and pulp, moved at a more engaging pace than this one. But fans of Zafón’s mesmerizing literary style will not be disappointed as he sweeps them into his curious literary netherworld.