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The Angel's Game [Hardcover]

Carlos Ruiz Zafon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 16 2009
From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafon, 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 my new windows each evening its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets in my ear, that I could catch 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 dizzyingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.

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Review

“Very rarely are readers allowed to discover greatness on their own, to get caught up in the story at a visceral level, immersed in a fictional world, and eventually to emerge blinking wide-eyed into the ‘real’ world, putting the book down, sated and energized, surprised to find that they have read something, unknowingly, that can hold its own with the classics…. [The Angel’s Game] is this sort of rarity, a book that is utterly new, defiantly, nay, irresistibly readable, yet possessing the sense of depth and significance one usually finds only in the vaunted, self-consciously ‘great’ novels, past and present…. It belongs to no genre, while seeming to ruthlessly pilfer from many of them. It’s part mystery, part ghost story, part bildungsroman, part romance, part tragedy, part blood-soaked noir…. It constantly surprises, at a narrative level, and provides the sort of breakneck, can't-put-it-down reading experience that one usually finds only in genre writing.”
The Globe and Mail

“A hypnotically chilling gothic thriller…. Tightly wound in an aura of mystery…. The great strength of Zafón’s writing, as with Poe or Roland Topor … is in his ability to weave a mood of foreboding around his plot…. A book that is so beautifully constructed and, finally, memorable.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“In The Angel’s Game, as in his previous novel, The Shadow of the Wind, [Zafón] spins a fantastically elaborate plot from a slender, whimsical idea. Here it’s the notion that a writer might, on a bad day, succumb to a sense of futility about the value of his calling, might begin to believe that the act of telling a story isn’t just vain, but positively diabolical…. The pleasures of The Angel’s Game are guilty ones. As he did in The Shadow of the Wind, Ruiz Zafón provides, along with sex and death, a nice slide show of old Barcelona, a handful of affectionate riffs on favorite books (among them that other, very different mysterious-benefactor tale Great Expectations) and a pervasive sense of the childish joy of credulity – of surrendering to a story and letting it take you where it will, whatever the consequences.”
The New York Times

“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.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A] gothic tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul.”
The Independent (Ireland)

“Zafón thrillingly tiptoes along the fine line between paranormal events and psychological delusion that modern pioneers of the uncanny … had trod.”
The Independent

“Scintillating… A heady brew of detective thriller, supernatural horror tale, magical realist fable and heartbreaking love story. It explores life, death, religious belief and — more than anything — the lonely, bitter-sweet self-torture that it is to be a writer, and the central role of books, especially fiction, in our understanding of the human condition.”
Daily Mail

“The breeze from Charles Dickens and his Great Expectations blows through this novel from the start…. Zafón constantly invites us to see Barcelona, his ‘city of the damned,’ from above. He takes us into sinful corners, indulging fantasies that are erotic, magical or violent. In the end Zafón is the tempter. Many will fall for his vigorous and exhaustingly relentless story-telling.”
The Guardian (UK)

“Often novelist heroes grate, but The Angel’s Game makes the most of the choice, playfully invoking a range of authorial gripes [and] taking a gleeful dig at the capriciousness of critics.”
— Lionel Shriver, The Daily Telegraph

“If you’ve been doubting Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s ability to produce an entire quartet of books about books, don’t. It’s my guess that he has acres upon acres of tales still to tell.”
Irish Times

“Carlos Ruiz Zafón writes like an angel in The Angel’s Game.”
USA Today

“A masterfully written love affair with books and words as well as an obsessive tribute to passionate love…. Eerie, gothic … 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. Zafón hits the reset button on what it means to be a great writer. His visionary storytelling prowess is a genre unto itself.”
USA Today

“Zafón has a gift for setting the writing life … against a tapestry of political events…. It is … a reader’s considerable pleasure to roam the streets of Barcelona once again and hear their whispered stories.”
New Orleans Books News and Reviews

“You are in exceptionally good hands the whole way. Zafón can write up a storm. In fact, he can write up all sorts of storms: rain, ice, fire. It’s hard, really, to find anything missing from his arsenal: zesty atmosphere, crackling dialogue, arresting epigrams.”
The Washington Post

“Zafón is a master of the atmospheric…. Its faith in the power of fiction is endearing, and addictive.”
Financial Times

“Zafón seals the deal with a wickedly clever tale that turns readers into accomplices of his obsession with books, the quixotic characters who pen and peddle them and mystical Barcelona…. Vivid … The city makes the writer, and Zafón once more creates a tale — a Harry Potter for grown-ups, a mammoth parable, and operative morality play — worthy of Barcelona.”
Miami Herald

“In Zafón’s imagination, the city, where fading grandeur coexists with Gaudi’s strange and surreal constructions, takes on as much character and menace as Dickens’ London.… Zafón’s fascination with the nature of faith and storytelling … can’t help but engage anyone who believes that life can be shaped by books…. The Angel’s Game draws with relish on all the conventions beloved of Wilkie Collins, Dickens and even the penny dreadfuls that David despises, then weaves them into something entirely original and surprisingly moving that holds the reader’s expectation until the final twist.”
The Observer

“Pulpy, melodramatic and compulsively readable.”
Time

“Moody, seductive … Zafón provides, along with sex and death, a nice slide show of old Barcelona, a handful of affectionate riffs on favourite books — and a pervasive sense of the childish joy of credulity — of surrendering to a story and letting it take you where it will.”
The Times

“Zafón is expert at introducing twists to his story; his dialogue sparkles; and he knows how to string together emotional and narrative incident.”
Times Literary Supplement

“It’s safe to say The Angel’s Game won’t be forgotten anytime soon.”
The Washington Post Book World

“If you're waiting for Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, then Zafón offers the best way to bide your time until its release. He offers not only plenty of plot intricacies and mystery but also a lyrical, melancholic style of writing. The Angel's Game is a strange creature, a literary centaur in which a meditation on the craft of writing is combined with a thriller about David Martin, a master of pulp and Grand Guignol.”
Los Angeles Times

The Angel’s Game will keep you glued to your deck chair. It may give you nightmares, but if this book was meant to be a testament to how a book can engage the imagination like nothing else, Zafón’s mission can be truly called accomplished.”
Seattle Times

“Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón has followed up his masterly debut, The Shadow Of The Wind, with a work of no less brilliance. The setting is Barcelona in the Twenties, the main character a writer of crime novels whose own life takes a spooky turn. There are nods in the direction of Dickens, Dumas and Edgar Allan Poe; but don't get the idea that this is one of those bookish, dry-as-dust yarns fit only for academics. It has wit, style, great sex and a hugely entertaining plot.”
The Mail on Sunday (UK)

About the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of The Shadow of the Wind and other novels. After Cervantes, he is the most widely read Spanish author of all time. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, gathering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every book has a soul.... Aug. 5 2009
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Translated from Spanish by Lucia Graves.

I loved Zafon's breakaway bestseller novel The Shadow of the Wind and have eagerly awaited the release of The Angel's Game from Random House Canada.

David Martin is raised in poverty in Barcelona in the early 1900's. Orphaned, his love of words is what saves him. The owner of a bookstore - Sempere and Sons - also plays a significant role in his life. David lands a position at a newspaper and over the years works his way up to being a writer. He is befriended by a wealthy, older writer - Don Pedro Vidal - and begins writing successful, sensationalistic fiction under a pseudonym. When a mysterious French publisher, Corelli, offers him a small fortune to write a book that Corelli thinks will change the course of a belief system, he leaps at the chance. David moves into a small mansion that has been shuttered for years and begins to write. But Corelli is not what he seems and David's new home has secrets that threaten to consume him and those he loves.

The Angel's Game is intriguing, combining subtle supernatural elements with an actual mystery. It has a very gothic feel to it. There are many twists and turns, that change the story and keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Obsession is a theme running throughout the book - with love and language. David's love of Cristina - Vidal's wife and the written word are captured by Zafon's prose. His language is beautiful, seizing settings and bringing them to life. I could taste the dust in the bookstore.

The Cemetery of Lost Books plays a part in The Angel's Game as well. For those who haven't read The Shadow of the Wind, here's a passage that absolutely captivated me:

" This place is a mystery. A sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see, has a soul.
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING July 27 2009
Format:Hardcover
one word for this book- AMAZING... I was reading for three days without closing the book once.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, compelling story, had to put down June 6 2010
Format:Paperback
Carlos Ruiz Zafon's 'The Angel's Game' came into my possession a few days ago when I was desperate to read "something" of the non-fiction selection in my local book store. It took me a while combing the shelves and finally my eyes fell upon his book. Love the cover, rich creamy pages, and bought it without hesitation. Opened it up and started to read it. I could not put it down. Set in Barcelona, with a rich flowing narrative, we get to know, and understand the complex characters like the hero, David Martin, a struggling writer to signs up for a deal he couldn't refuse, and ends up with more than he bargained for. Witty, well-written, and mysterious, the book does not fail to deliver.
A description of the book can be found on the author's website [...].
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4.0 out of 5 stars Carlos Ruiz Zafon : The Angel's Game. Aug. 5 2013
By Hana
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have read The Shadow of the Wind by Ruiz Zafon and I liked that important novel very much. When I started reading The Angel's Game, at the beginning I had the feeling that this novel is also expansive, wise, and would become a classic. The character of Isabella is unforgettable, and the final redemption of the 'would-be' writer Vidal is deeply felt. However, in about the middle the book became messy. There are too many characters, too much betrayal, and the impression that if everyone is bad, then it doesn't matter who is who. A great novel slips into a detective thriller.
Even the main character, David Martin, doesn't know who he is. How guilty is he?
I don't understand the two Cristinas. Why is the mature one so desperately unable to be happy, and who is the child Cristina, who is brought to Martin by Lucifer? Is she a child of human parents,or did the Devil create her to please and torture Martin for eternity?
In every work of art there should be a believable outline. Only then can we believe in the unbelievable,that is,if the feeling of normality is maintained all around. So, I must say that this novel was a disappointment considering the expectations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars couldnt be happier March 27 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
the book i received was in great condition, i love this book and im so glad i got it at such a great price thank you !!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. Jan. 14 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love the style, love the era, love Barcelona.
Follows from the first book, some of the same charcaters, some new ones.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just as awesome as its predecessor July 27 2012
By G. Larouche TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
After reading "Shadow of the Wind", I knew I would ravenously read anything else Zafon would publish, and I was not disappointed in the least with the second installment of his "Cemetery of Forgotten Books" series. Both novels are stand alones, so don't need to have read its predecessor before you tackle with gorgeous Neo-Gothic novel.

Set in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, "The Angel's Game" follows a young aspiring writer, David Martin, who after making a living writing penny dreadfuls, gets an enticing offer from a mysterious stranger: he must write a book that will change the world... But his love for the beautiful Cristina grows into an obsession that will torment him within an inch of his sanity, while bodies pile up and ominous characters cross his path. Eventually, you start wondering if everything that Martin sees is really happening, or has he gone mad and sold his soul?

This novel is a masterful love letter to Barcelona and a stunning homage to noir fiction: blood, money, books, love, insanity and dark strangers are elements that Zafon plays with to make you loose yourself in a story within a story. The writing flows beautifully: you can almost watch the movie of the book happening right in front of your eyes as you compulsively turn page after page to find out what happens next.

If you liked "Shadow of the Wind", this will not disappoint. Highly recommended to fans of dark, Gothic books, and any book lover who wishes to walk the aisles of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Angel's Game
Great read. The writer repeatedly lulls you into thinking this is a mystery, but then surprises you with sensitive interpersonal stuff that make the characters' personalities leap... Read more
Published on Aug. 30 2011 by Dr Eric A Saibil
3.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Mysterious & Gothic but Confusing
Reason for Reading: I had heard great things about Zafon's first book and the mysterious plot of this one intrigued me. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2011 by Nicola Mansfield
4.0 out of 5 stars not quite shadow of the wind
It was a beautifully written book. It relates somewhat to shadow of the wind, being a prequil, but the story line is extremely similar at times. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2010 by yearning for shadow
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - But a Tough Read for Me
I confess, I was drawn to this book because of its cover. What reader could resist a cover that looks like this? Read more
Published on March 21 2010 by MacFly
4.0 out of 5 stars His words flow effortlessly
His words flow effortlessly and feel almost alive. Richly descriptive, with a detailed environment faithful to the setting. Read more
Published on March 20 2010 by jwc
5.0 out of 5 stars The book with soul
I loved this book for a reason that usually makes me hate them : the ending, in fact the whole book, is ambiguous. Read more
Published on Oct. 19 2009 by Susie Sharon
3.0 out of 5 stars the angels game
I've only started to read this book, but so far
it is not spellbinding....I hope it improves with
reading.
Published on Sept. 24 2009 by H. Cutten
5.0 out of 5 stars Confirms Author's Place
The Angel's Game should confirm for us, as English speakers, Zafon's stature as a teller of stories. Read more
Published on Sept. 22 2009 by Got'em All
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