- Series: Cemetery of Forgotten Books
- Hardcover: 816 pages
- Publisher: Harper; First American Edition, First Printing edition (September 18, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062668692
- ISBN-13: 978-0062668691
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 46 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,668 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Labyrinth of the Spirits: A Novel (Cemetery of Forgotten Books) Hardcover – September 18, 2018
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“A colossal achievement…a genre-crossing delight… Publishers dream of novels that appeal to habitual readers and to those seeking one big book to last a holiday, and that is what Zafon’s quartet has delivered. His trick is to have linked multiple genres – fantasy, historical, romance, meta-fictional, police-procedural and political – through prose of atmospheric specificity.” (The Guardian)
“A mystery, a love letter to books, and a magical adventure all wrapped up in one, this book is a masterful work of literature that will invigorate your love of reading.” (Bustle)
“Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a gifted storyteller who knows how to capture his readers’ attention. Packed with suspense, The Labyrinth of the Spirits is a gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller. As you read this chilling thriller, you feel as if your pounding heart is missing a beat.” (Washington Book Review)
“A gripping and moving thriller set in Franco’s Spain that’s fully accessible to newcomers.…29-year-old Alicia Gris, a capable, insightful operative working for the Spanish secret police…will remind readers of Lisbeth Salander… Fans of complex and literate mysteries featuring detectives with integrity working under oppressive and corrupt regimes will be well satisfied.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review)
“Ruiz Zafón clearly has had a great deal of fun in pulling this vast story together…His ability to keep track of a thousand threads while, in the end, celebrating the power of storytelling is admirable…. A satisfying conclusion to a grand epic that, of course, will only leave its fans wanting more.” (Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review)
“A compelling, multi-faceted, and haunting work of art told by a master storyteller. To say that the writing is brilliant is an understatement. Carlos Ruiz Zafón respects every word, taking his time to develop and do justice to the major, minor, and irrelevant characters, places, things, or situations in order to recreate a dark time in Spain’s history and ensure that the reader not only bears witness to it but is immersed in it and feels it…An epic novel that is also an ode to writing and to the undying thirst for knowledge through reading.” (Historical Novel Society)
“Gothic, operatic, and in many ways old-fashioned, this is a story about storytelling and survival, with the horrors of Francoist Spain present on every page. Compelling…this is for readers who savor each word and scene, soaking in the ambience of Barcelona, Zafón’s greatest character (after, perhaps, the irrepressible Fermín Romero de Torres).” (Booklist)
“It is a bittersweet return to Barcelona for fans of Zafón, as he concludes his internationally beloved, labyrinthine Cemetery of Forgotten Books series (The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven) with an operatic finale, drawing together all the threads as a rare book unveils a conspiracy that runs through Spanish history.” “The plot is exquisitely intricate, like an elaborate steampunk timepiece. Alicia, a fragile but ferociously formidable, vampire-like seductress, is unforgettable. The pacing is exceptional, with its incessant, rolling waves of tension. Even the dialogue is remarkably sharp and fresh…The Labyrinth of the Spirits is a masterpiece…Readers’ one regret will be that Labyrinth is the last in this ingenious cycle.” (BookPage)
“THE LABYRINTH OF THE SPIRITS is the sublime culmination to a truly outstanding series. Set in Barcelona from 1938 through the 1970s, these books deftly combine the world of bookselling, the long shadow of the Spanish Civil War, gothic literary interplay, wonderfully salty characters, sublime dialogue and verbal sparring, along with elaborate and satisfying exposition. Taken together or individually they represent a reading experience not to be missed…reading Labyrinth first would have given a sublime insight into any of the other books…As long as you actually open a door to the labyrinth and enter it, all is well. As to not reading the Cemetery of Forgotten books at all, that is obviously a grave error.”
“A literary feast!” (Barnes & Noble “September Pick”)
About the Author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of eight novels, including the internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed Cemetery of Forgotten Books series: The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, and The Labyrinth of the Spirits. His work, which also includes prizewinning young adult novels, has been translated into more than fifty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous awards and reaching millions of readers. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Atmosphere abounds in this genre-defying book. I felt like I was right there with the characters, twisting through the streets of Barcelona, hiding in the shadows, breathing in gunpowder, living off of caffeine and adrenaline, and pushing through too-little sleep to uncover the next piece of the puzzle. The Semperes and Fermin Romero de Torres return, as do other friends and enemies from the previous books, but the main protagonist in this story is Alicia Gris, a bold and alluring woman assigned to investigate a missing person (a returning character who I'll let you discover). The pacing is fantastic. It starts with short snippets into various POVs and story lines as a sort of appetizer before slowly building on the main mystery of the book. You gradually uncover more as the plot builds and you delve deeper into the heart of the city and characters. About halfway through the pieces begin to fall together with increasing speed and for the next 200 pages or so it's non-stop, unputdownable thrills. Yes, there are a few twists, one of which actually made me close my book in disbelief for several minutes before I felt capable of continuing. Nothing felt contrived. Everything felt fitting. I didn't feel cheated or misled. The pace slows down again at the end of the book to ease you back to normal and fill in the gaps. In the end you also get quite a bit of insight into what Ruiz Zafon values in the craftsmanship of writing, which is woven in along with acknowledgments of sorts in a clever way that not everyone may not love, but I quite enjoyed. It is one satisfying, gorgeous read.
Like the other books in the series this installment is a wonderful mix of genres: mystery, historical fiction, police procedural, political thriller, romance, fantasy... If you're looking for a fun, light mystery this isn't for you. It's over 800 pages, with multiple characters and sub-plots to keep track of, and, while not gratuitous, it has some torture and squeamish bits to make you uncomfortable if you're highly sensitive. However, if you enjoy modern Gothic tales dripping with atmosphere or detailed mysteries with complex histories to sink your teeth into, this book is fantastic. The series is truly a gift to book lovers, not only for its gorgeous storytelling and compelling characters, but also because it's a series about books, featuring the most fantastic library imaginable, a charming bookstore, lovable booksellers, mysterious authors, the process of writing, the magic of storytelling, and the powerful, undeniable hold that a treasured book can have on a reader.
I was a fan of all previous books, but if readers of the series were disappointed in The Angel's Game or The Prisoner of Heaven, fear not. The Labyrinth of the Spirits is Carlos Ruiz Zafon as his masterful best. Despite its length, the story flew by and every page felt necessary and engaging. I will be returning to this book, and the series, many times in the future. The atmosphere and level of storytelling are unparalleled.
In The Labyrinth of the Spirits Carlos Ruiz Zafón brings the reader full circle, completing the story which began with The Shadow of the Wind. I highly recommend first reading that initial novel, along with The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven as Ruiz Zafón has here constructed an intricately woven narrative which draws together the lives of the many characters whose stories were told both within the words and between the lines of those previous books.
As with the other books in this series, we travel a Barcelona that is full of Gothic-noir mystery. The streets swirl with smoke, shadows and words unsaid, and buildings loom as ominously as the threat of the political police.
The story returns to the fate of bookseller and amateur investigator of literary mysteries, Daniel Sempere and his family, but the real shining stars in this novel are Alicia, Fermin and Vargas. Each brings something unique to the narrative to liven, lighten or illuminate the darker depths. Personally, I have always found poor Daniel a bit too brooding and serious. In contrast, despite troubled histories and pained presents, Alicia, Fermin and Vargas face each trial with straightened spines and witty, sardonic banter. My kind of people!
The narrative is a non-linear affair, with the story told in flashbacks and Inception-style stories-within-stories. In fact the whole series is a love song to books, literature and reading. The author describes the act of reading as only a true bibliophile can, encompassing every sense: literature is perfume, it is chocolate, it is a musical symphony. The love of books and stories pours from the pages and the book-loving reader is warmed and uplifted in turn.
The first half of the novel is a deliberate meander through misty, rainy, shadowed Spanish streets, building up a slow-burning tension as the edges and corners of the huge, complex puzzle gradually begin to unfurl. In contrast the second half of the book gathers pace imperceptibly as the torture and violence increases, until by the climax we are pounding the stormy streets at breathless speed, running on caffeine and alcohol fumes and no sleep at all, as the literary mystery explodes into a frenetic thriller and plot twists leap out from the shadows as we speed past. Finally the ending slows again and allows the reader time for breath and thought, as the final pieces of the story are confidently slotted into place and the full picture revealed at last.
Anyone who has read any of Ruiz Zafón’s novels will already know that this writing is exquisite and precise, whether he is painting an almost-supernaturally spooky setting like a cemetery or abandoned mansion, or perfectly skewering the everyday error of overordering food when in an expansive mood. This skill draws the reader fully into the world created, and I should warn that this makes the scenes of sadistic torture particularly vivid and disturbing. In order to see the light, and the subtle shades of grey, we need the dark for contrast, but I appreciate that this may not be an easy read for the squeamish!
As I am sure you can tell from my purplish prose (oh for a Carax of my own to correct me!) I absolutely loved this novel, and would personally say that it is the best of the whole series. I cannot recommend this highly enough, but will again add that you must read the whole series in order to make full sense of the individual stories!
Stories have no beginning and no end, only doors through which one may enter them.
A story is an endless labyrinth of words, images, and spirits, conjured up to show us the invisible truth about ourselves. A story is, after all, a conversation between the narrator and the reader, and just as narrators can only relate as far as their ability will permit, so too readers can only read as far as what is already written in their souls.
– Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Labyrinth of the Spirits
Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog