Carlos Ruiz Zafon

READ THE WORLD – Spain: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Pulp fiction writer David Martín is holed up in an abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, desperately writing story after story while becoming increasingly frustrate and disillusioned. When he is approached by a mysterious publisher, Andreas Corelli, makes him an enticing offer David leaps at the chance. But as he begins to research and write this novel, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, David realises there’s a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home, and maybe his publisher might be hiding secrets of his own.

The Angel’s Game is set in the same universe as The Shadow of the Wind, but I don’t think it matters if you haven’t read that book or if you haven’t read it for a while. I read and reviewed The Shadow of the Wind four years ago so naturally I can’t really remember much about the book, but the only connections I noticed was the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the dilapidated tower home the main character in this novel came to live in. (After writing this review I googled the series and realised that The Angel’s Game is in fact a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind though apparently each book in the series is supposed to be able to stand on its own from the others, so it really doesn’t matter what order you read them in.)

Set in the 1920s and early 1930s, The Angel’s Game really makes use of both the time period and the city its set in to add to the mystery and eeriness of the story. Not being able to get hold of a character, or instances of mistaken identity are rife, and both increase the tension at key moments. The city of Barcelona truly becomes a character in its own right in The Angel’s Game. The narrow alleyways, abandoned houses, tiny shops and the often-bleak weather, makes the city a wonderful setting for a gripping mystery. The descriptions of the city are vivid making the few times characters venture elsewhere, even more stark and different to what we already know.

David is an interesting man. He’s often unlikable as he pushes away those who care about him when he’s obsessed with writing and is unsure how to love or be loved in return. He’s always had affection for the daughter of a friend’s driver, Cristina, but circumstance and society keeps them a part. His reluctant friendship with Isabella, an inspiring writer who is many years younger than him is surprisingly sweet and while their relationship isn’t without its troubles and miscommunications, their honesty with one another is truly needed by both of them.

The mystery of the tower house, its previous owner and what happened to them kicks in about the third of the way through the book. Andreas Corelli seems to be connected to it all though it takes a long time for David to figure things out. David becomes obsessive, both about his writing and the secrets his home holds, looking for reasons behind the deaths and strangeness that appears to be following him. The Angel’s Game is told in the first person from David’s point of view, meaning that as the story progresses and things get weirder, you begin to doubt what you’ve been told so far as David’s grip on reality seems to slip.

I shan’t say I picked up all the threads of the mystery before they were explained to me, nor that I totally understood the ending, but that didn’t make me like this story any less. The Angel’s Game was a very readable book and the whole gothic take on Barcelona fully pulled me into the story. Would it have been nice if the story wasn’t quite so convoluted and weird? Yes, but it’s still a book that I ended up enjoying more than I remembered enjoying its predecessor. 4/5.

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The Tome Topple Readathon

This readathon is hosted by ThoughtsonTomes from June 5th to June 19th and the aim of it is to read those huge intimidating books that are over 500 pages long that have been sitting on your shelves for ages.

There’s a few challenges you can try and complete which are below but really the main thing is to read some long books.

The challenges:
1. Read more than one tome (500+ pages)
2. Take a graphic novel break (doesn’t need to be over 500 pages!)
3. Read a tome that is part of a series
4. Read over 500 pages in one week
5. Read an adult novel

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I have four 500+ pages long books that I’m considering to read for this readathon. There’s no way I could or will read all four of them but I like to have some options when it comes to readathons. The four books are The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which is 531 pages, American Gods by Neil Gaiman which has 635 pages, Last Man Standing by David Baldacci which is 548 pages long and The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell which is a beautiful hardback book and has 595 pages.

Theoretically I’ll be able to complete all the challenges. All four books on my TBR are adult books, If I managed to complete a book a week then I’ll have read over 500 pages each week of the readathon, it turns out that The Angel’s Game is the second book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series which I didn’t realise when I picked it up from a charity shop, and I can definitely take a couple of graphic novel breaks as I have a few unread trade paper backs I’d liked to read including, All New Hawkeye, Black Widow Vol. 3, The Punisher Vol. 3 and Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier.

I really don’t know how this readathon will go. Hopefully it’ll go well but I am in a bit of a reading slump at the moment so who knows. To be honest, as long as I read one of these books I’ll be very happy.

I’ll probably be tweeting about my progress @ElenaM52 and you can find out more about the readathon and all the co-hosts here. Good luck to all those who are taking part!

REVIEW: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The-Shadow-of-the-WindWhen he is ten years old Daniel is shown the secrets of the book cemetery by his father. There he discovers a book by Julian Carax called the Shadow of the Wind. Daniel falls in love with the book and over the years he sets about trying to find out more about the allusive Julian Carax. But as he digs deeper into the mystery more and more people want to the book and will go to great lengths to take it from him.

The Shadow of the Wind is beautifully written. The way it describes the joy of books as well as the city of Barcelona where the story is set is incredibly vivid. However the fact there’s so much description can be a double-edged sword, it’s beautiful but it can be a bit dense and I sometimes would skim read long passages. (more…)