Friday, August 2, 2013

The Angel's Game

by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
510 pgs  (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series #2)

The Angel's Game is the second of four books Carlos Ruiz Zafón intends to write (three have been published so far) that all share one thing in common: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The Shadow of the Wind was the first book written, but the events in that book take place after those in The Angel's Game.

Even though this book would technically be considered a prequel, from what I understand, Zafón doesn't intend it to be. My understanding is that the four books will be only loosely associated with each other, sometimes featuring the same characters, but at different times in their lives and from other people's perspectives. Each book will have a separate tone and voice (as these first two definitely do) and could be read in any order.

The Angel's Game is, at its roots, a Faustian story, but there are so many different aspects to the book that I hesitate to categorize it that simply. It tells the story of David Martin, a writer who lives in Barcelona in the early 1900s.  Martin makes his living writing pulp fiction novels which enable him to rent the old mansion he had always dreamed of living in. While there he is offered an inordinate amount of money to write a book for a wealthy and mysterious man. There are odd stipulations associated with this commissioning, but Martin accepts.

The mansion itself play a central role in Martin's life and in the story as a whole. It's filled with secrets, one of which Martin stumbles across one day when he discovers photographs and letters that imply that the home's previous owner died under suspicious circumstances. As Martin investigates the life of the man, he begins to realize that his own life has begun to bear a striking resemblance to it.

The tone and feel of this book is decidedly different from that of its predecessor. It's darker and has a Gothic feel to it, which I wasn't expecting, but which made me enjoy reading it even more. The book is not what I'd call a casual read. There's a lot going on in its pages. By the time I finished it I was tempted to do something I've never considered doing before: turn back to page one and start reading it again right away. I may still do that, but not until I'm about to read the next one: The Prisoner of Heaven.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

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