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The Angel's Game Hardcover – Jun 16 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Jun 16 2009
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada; 1st Edition edition (June 16 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385667639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385667630
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 816 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #355,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“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.”

“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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Top Customer Reviews

By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Aug. 5 2009
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.
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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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By Mys M TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 31 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ruiz Zafón's gothic psychological thriller takes us on a journey through 1920s Barcelona with a writer named David Martín who carries a lot of tragic baggage from an unhappy childhood. Abandoned by his mother, beaten by his father, desperate to read anything he can get his hands on, and protected by the neighbourhood book seller, Señor Sempere, David has a rather cynical and dark outlook on life. When his father is killed at his caretaking job on the newspaper, The Voice of Industry, David is taken under the wing of a wealthy patron, Pedro Vidal, who occasionally writes for the paper and convinces editor Don Basilio to give the ambitious 17-year-old an opportunity. The result is an ongoing serial story, "The Mysteries of Barcelona", which David refers to as "penny dreadfuls," as well as alienation from older more experienced writers on the paper. After a time, he is pushed out, and, through his friend Vidal, he secures a 20-year contract with a pair of publishers of the most despicable reputation. David begins turning out a book a month for a series called "City of the Damned", and he becomes the main character in a reality version (or possibly a madness version) of his own plots.
Our hero rents a long-abandoned, eerie home with a history of mystery, violence, and the supernatural. He becomes obsessed with his writing, the mystery, and the deterioration of his own health. Between the blurring lines of a bizarre reality and the dark imaginings of David we see something of a Picture of Dorian Grey or a Faustus, where someone has made a pact with the devil.
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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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