Title: The Angel's Game
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
What it's about: Aspiring novelist David Martín is approached by a mysterious figure who offers him an enormous sum of money to write a book. David, who is hungry to prove himself, takes the offer and begins work. However, he soon discovers that the figure who offered him the job is more than he seems and that he may only be a small piece in a larger mystery that weaves itself through Barcelona and even the very house he, David, now lives in.
What I thought: A discussion of The Angel's Game cannot take place without mentioning its predecessor, The Shadow of the Wind. First off, I'm gonna say that I prefer The Shadow of the Wind over this book. That is not to say that The Angel's Game is not an excellent book, however. The same macabre sense of mystery and nostalgia pervades The Angel's Game and pulls you into its world. My main complaint was that... Well, while at times in The Shadow of the Wind it seemed that Zafon was almost beating you over the head with exposition of past events, this time around it seems that things are left a little too mysterious to fully make all the connections during the first read-through. The events near the end and until the epilogue move at a frenzied pace, and you more feel the events than totally process them. And it's a fun ride, but it feels a bit lacking. The whole Faustian feel of things was a good theme, but it didn't feel played out well enough. I was expecting something like The Shadow of the Wind, with history repeating itself, and I did get that from this book too, but, well, while I'm not saying that the parallels should be exceedingly obvious (while it worked for Shadow, it's not for every book) and while the last scene in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books definitely worked, but... I guess it ties back into the lack of explanation I was mentioning before. Maybe someone out there in readerland feels differently about this. Please do say so if you disagree with my assessment. I will say that I very much liked the character of Isabella and her interaction with David. She reminded me of Fermin, although the two are quite different. Fermin's older, while Isabella's a young thing; Fermin's worldly and dapper, while Isabella is somewhat naive and temperamental. But there's that role of confidant that both take up, with wisdom and assistance for the main character. Also, I will mention that I liked the connections between The Angel's Game and Shadow. Oh, one other thing. I remember reading somewhere, maybe on Wikipedia or Amazon or some other place, that this book would explain more about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Well, it did, but I still feel that we didn't learn enough. I suppose Zafon will write more books set in his shadowy version of Barcelona and thus satisfy the curiosity of myself and other readers.
Overall: I can't say it's as good as The Shadow of the Wind, but The Angel's Game is another excellent offering from Zafon.