Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fiction | Murder and Mayhem in Barcelona


Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind was hands-down one of the best books I read last year, and it wasn’t until I posted about it that I learned there were more titles in this short series. I was given the opportunity to read the third in the series for an upcoming book tour (coming soon!), so I decided I must quickly get my hands on the second—there is just too much wonderful detail in these stories to even consider skipping it!

The Angel’s Game is the second title in Zafón’s “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” series, though it’s only loosely based on the first. The setting is the same, and a couple characters overlap, but for the most part, we’re taken on a new journey through pre-Civil War Barcelona.

In The Angel’s Game we meet David Martín, a writer who has been penning silly but bestselling murder mysteries under a pseudonym, though this, he feels, is not his life’s calling. His life feels at a standstill—trapped in a writing contract he doesn’t want, unloved by the woman he loves. When a letter arrives from a mysterious French publisher, he’s given the opportunity to write a real manuscript of substance—one that has the “power to change hearts and minds.” But when David finds himself at the center of a number of unfortunate events, he begins to fear what he got himself into…and he’s learning he can’t easily escape. David finds himself mixed up into a decades-long suspicious death, the mysterious history of the abandoned mansion he calls home, and an editor who may not be what he seems.

I’m very glad that I read The Shadow of the Wind a year ago, so that the details are not fresh on my mind, because I wouldn’t want to compare these two books. Their settings are so similar, but they each deserve to be judged on their own individual merits. The Angel’s Game is much darker in tone and reads much like a murder mystery though it still contains the great elements of magical realism that make Zafón’s Barcelona such an eerie, mysterious setting. I found this to be uberly creepy and utterly intoxicating, and despite its 500+ pages, I absolutely blew through it.

David is a character that you love to follow, and at certain points in the story I would stop and think, “Wow, this has come so far from the book’s opening chapters. How did we get get here?” He seems to just be a guy getting caught up in what’s happening around him, and while you want to be on his side, sometimes you as the reader are not quite sure what is real and what isn’t. Actually, for a good portion of this book, I had this deep-set fear that it was going to end up like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, a book I so enjoyed reading and then ended up despising, because nothing ever happened; it was just a plot with no point, no resolution—details but no real narrative. Luckily, Zafón did not disappoint like Murakami. And though you do question the validity of what is happening, at a certain point, you just don’t care and you go with it.

Wonderful. Can’t wait to read the next.

1 comment:

Aarti said…

Ooh, so glad you are reading these books, too! I read the most recent one recently and I think it gets even darker. Though I think for that one, it's good to have read The Angel's Game recently (I had not) as there are a lot of allusions to it, though it's a sequel to The Shadow of the Wind. I admit I enjoy each book a little less than the one that came before – hopefully the fourth book brings it all back together!