Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published: 2009 (US)
Recommendation: Enjoyable, dark, and moody mystery in the style of The Shadow of the Wind. Read it.
Summary: David Martin starts out as a paper boy at The Voice of Industry. Given a chance to write by his rich patron Pedro Vidal, he proceeds to become a low-key mystery novelist. David acquires a mysterious tower house that no one else wants, and slowly living there get entangled into the mysteries of the previous owner and some of his own.
Reactions: With The Shadow of the Wind being my favourite read this year, I was very much looking forward to this novel by Zafon. The book takes place earlier, in 1920s Barcelona and is a stand-alone tome. The only ties to The Shadow of the Wind are two fairly minor characters appearing in both and the presence of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books.
The style and the voice of The Angel's Game are reminiscent of the previous novel. The mood settings and the descriptions of Barcelona are uniquely Zafon's. If I were given this book without a cover, I would not have trouble placing the author.
Thematically, The Angel's Game revolves around literature as much as about David's life, romance, and mysteries. The cast includes the writer Martin, aspiring writers Pedro Vidal and Isabella, mysterious writer of Lux Aeterna Diego Marlasca, and bookseller Sempere. Much of the book is spent discovering what it means to be a writer and the effect of writing on one's soul. It's a homage to the importance of books and one I appreciate as a reader.
The plot is dark, and has many magical realism threads woven through it. While the plot kept my attention throughout, I didn't find the book as captivating as the first one. One of the things I enjoyed a lot in The Shadow of the Wind was Daniel's coming of age. Well, David starts out being rather mature in a sense and I didn't connect to him nearly as well. Also the ending does not feel as conclusive, with many questions in my mind still unanswered.
Still, it's a very good read, one I would certainly recommend, especially to those who have enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind.
A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story.