- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 18, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0767931114
- ISBN-13: 978-0767931113
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (539 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Angel's Game Paperback – May 18, 2010
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From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafón, author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, comes The Angel’s Game--a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love.
“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 Martín, 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, Zafón 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.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón on The Angel's Game
Years ago, when I began working on my fifth novel, The Shadow of the Wind, I started toying around with the idea of creating a fictional universe that would be articulated through four interconnected stories in which we would meet some of the same characters at different times in their lives, and see them from different perspectives where many plots and subplots would tie around in knots for the reader to untie. It sounds somewhat pretentious, but my idea was to add a twist to the story and provide the reader with what I hoped would be a stimulating and playful reading experience. 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.
At first I thought this could be done in one book, but soon I realized it would make Shadow of the Wind a monster novel, and in many ways, destroy the structure I was trying to design for it. I realized I would have to write 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. Since each novel was going to be complex and difficult to write, I decided to take one at a time and see how the experiment evolved on its own in an organic way.
It all sounds very complicated, but it is not. At the end of the day, these are just stories that share a universe, a tone and some central themes and characters. You don’t need to care or know about any of this stuff to enjoy them. One of the fun things about this process was it allowed me to give each book a different personality. Thus, if Shadow of the Wind is the nice, good girl in the family, The Angel’s Game would be the wicked gothic stepsister. Some readers often ask me if The Angel’s Game is a prequel or a sequel. The answer is: none of these things, and all of the above. Essentially 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. Beware. Maybe, without realizing, I ended up writing a monster book after all... Don’t say I didn’t warn you, courageous reader. I’ll see you on the other side. --Carlos Ruiz Zafón
(Photo © Isolde Ohlbaum)--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Occasionally, he appears to be trying to outdo himself, to see just how many tritely spooky adjectives he can pack into one sentence (once I counted 6). Honestly, if I never hear another chapter begin or end with a description of a Barcelona sunset or dawn looking red as blood I will count myself fortunate. And how many genres can a writer cram into one book anyway, from detective yarn to noir romance to gothic gore-fest to psycho thriller. You either think it's all just too much, or you love it for the impossibility of all it tries to be.
That said, I was slightly less awed at the power of his prose here than I was when I read "Shadow of the Wind", but I was also prepared for Zafon's excesses. Sometimes it glows with atmosphere and wit, and other times it feels cliched, as in: "The rain was still whipping against the windowpane. Trapped in that gray, pale light of a dead dawn, it occurred to me for the first time that we were sinking." Sheesh. And there are not one, not two, but three dilapidated "haunted" houses are to be found here; every location vies to be creepier than the last.
And is that big body count at the end really necessary? Virtually no one David comes in contact with makes it to the final fade-out, which finds him (almost) alone in the world. My biggest criticism of the book is that David's own actions fail to support what must be supported: that the reader should care what happens to him. I almost threw the book down 50 pages from the end because he was being such a weasel. His lover calls him a coward on one page (finally!) but calls "I love you" three pages later, just before she dies. I didn't buy that (but then, she WAS in an asylum).
Still, Zafon's writing is often metaphors beyond other books of this Gothic ilk. A sub-theme I enjoyed was Zafon's send-up of the publishing business, which reads as high satire. His ambitious and ego-centric protagonist David makes his living writing "penny dreadfuls" that are hugely popular, but he is crushed when the first flower of his high-literary aspiration bombs, not without some help from his deceitful publishers. Even his own mother throws his beloved novel into the trash. Brilliant touch, that!
So in spite of the cliches, I find myself wondering: Are these sometimes-hackneyed pages really intentional pokes at the plebeian demands of his metier, with the joke being on US? Could he really be that smart? I'm betting yes. Behind it all, you can almost hear Zafon's dry cackle echo through the dripping hallways. The Angel's Game may, in the end, be the Author's Game, always working another level behind the obvious.
It may be wrong to expect too much of a mystery novel. Obsessions don't have a reasonable foundation, or they wouldn't be obsessions. Like love. It's the irrational tangles of these forces that give the novel life. And lots and lots of death.
with how absolutely terrible it is. the plot never really seems to come together and it really drags itself in trying to get there. i kept telling myself to give it a chance to the point where finishing it felt like an obligation for having wasted so much time already.