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The Angel's Game [Hardcover]

Carlos Ruiz Zafon
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jun 2009
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man - David Martin - makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books, and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house are letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner. Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Then David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realises that there is a connection between this haunting book and the shadows that surround his home. Set in the turbulent 1920s, The Angel's Game takes us back to the gothic universe of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books, the Sempere and Son bookshop, and the winding streets of Barcelona's old quarter, in a masterful tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; First U.S. Edition edition (1 Jun 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297855549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297855545
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 233,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game, the first two books in a series of novels set in literary universe of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. His work has been published in more than forty different languages, and honored with numerous international awards. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.

Product Description

Review

The gothic landscape of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books - the winding streets of Barcelona's old quarter - haunt a novel about books and writing and secrets. Wonderful. (KATE MOSSE THE TIMES SUMMER READING ROUNDUP - 27.06.09)

The prose is intelligent but unpretentious, and the author is clear in his intentions to provide a rollicking, fun read.... the novel's themes address the power of narrative, and many sharp lines pertain to storytelling... hugely enjoyable. (LIONEL SHRIVER THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 06.06.09)

Scintillating second novel... a heady brew of detective thriller; supernatural horror tale, magical realist fable and heartbreaking love story... and the central role of books, especially fiction in our understanding of the human condition. (THE DAILY MAIL 05.06.09)

In this book about books, Zafon writes about Spain's harrowing history with literary aplomb. (THE TIMES - 30.06.09)

A thrilling labyrinthine plot packed with murder, mystery and an obsessive love affair (FANNY BLAKE WOMAN AND HOME - JULY 09 ISSUE)

another imaginative gothic tale (HARPERS BAZAAR - JULY 09 ISSUE)

Those who were hooked on Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind will be similarly entranced by The Angel's Game... dark and disturbing narrative... Surprising and bittersweet, it's as potent as an Audrey Niffengger novel, with a nod to a certain nineteenth-century romance. (CLARE LONGRIGG PSYCHOLOGIES - JULY 09 ISSUE)

enter the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for another terrifying adventure. (Suzi Feay WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY - June 09)

revisits some of Zafon's much loved urban landscapes in old Barcelona. Yet this novel stands alone, a complement or even an antagonist to its forerunner. If the previous book celebrated the ecstasies of reading then this one - no less in love with literature, and no less crammed with archetypal plots - explores the agonies of writing. (BOYD TONKIN THE INDEPENDENT 05.06.09)

wit, style, great sex and a hugely entertaining plot. (MAIL ON SUNDAY - 21.06.09)

his narrative style embraces relentless pace and fantastical and magical diversions... Zafon is the tempter. (THE GUARDIAN - 13.06.09)

His enterprise is bold, serious and shocking. His treatment of Spain's tortured history in the 20th century is as significant as his literary skill. These are things that belong not just to one city but to the world. (MARGARET REYNOLDS THE TIMES - 23.05.09)

The author's affection for Dickens is imprinted through like a watermark...can't help but engage anyone who believes that life can be shaped by books. Aided here by Lucia Graves's clear and unfussy translation, The Angel's Game draws with relish on all the conventions beloved of Wilkie Collins, Dickens... then weaves them into something entirely original and suprisingly moving that holds the readers expectations until the final twist. (STEPHANIE MERRIT THE OBSERVER - 28.06.09)

Zafon is master of the atmospheric.. its faith in the power of fiction is endearing, and addictive. (FINANCIAL TIMES - 27.06.09)

In a feature headed "Predicting the hottest reads this summer", he notes that "Waterstones expects to do well with... Carlos Ruiz Zafon's new tale of bookish mystery." (NICHOLAS CLEE THE TIMES SUMMER READING ROUNDUP - 27.06.09)

Readers familiar with The Shadow of the Wind will find themselves back in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the echo of Eco where, from a labyrinthine library, volumes seem to select their readers... rattling good gothic fun. (SPECTATOR - 13.06.09)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon's trip to the UK is one of the highlights in a busy season for events. (WATERSTONES BOOKS QUARTERLY - 10.04.09)

Summer and reading go together like buckets and spades and sultry days are made for chunky page-turners such as THE ANGEL'S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Weidenfeld, June 1). It unfolds in Twenties Barcelona where a young man undertakes to write a book that will change people's lives. The task is daunting and the stakes perilously high. (HEPHZIBAH ANDERSON THE DAILY MAIL - 1.05.08)

Boyd Tonkin, looks ahead to "the daring books of May" and after running through May's list of AS Byatt, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, Monica Ali and Jake Arnott and Colm Toibin, he looks forward and says THE ANGEL'S GAME is a novel "which might outperform even this month of marvels" when it is published in June. (BOYD TONKIN THE INDEPENDENT - 1.05.08)

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books - " a colossal labyrinth of bridges, passages and shelves" - is a wonderful creation, and there are many thrilling set pieces. (MARK SANDERSON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 07.06.09)

The Angel's Game is full of gothic features: darkness, ruined houses, locked rooms, the smell of damp earth and portentous conversations conducted by candlelight. (THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT 29.05.09)

starts off as an intelligent literary thriller, but morphs into action-packed adventure with a hefty body count. (DAILY EXPRESS 12.06.09)

Zafon's noirish plot keeps things ticking over and his talent for hot-blooded, believable characters is undiminished... bodes well for what is a planned Barcelona quartet. (LONDON METRO 10.06.09)

spellbinding new bestseller... Succeeding brilliantly on several levels The Angel's Game is the finest novel I have read this year, and stands as a fascinating tribute to the power of the human imagination. (YORKSHIRE EVENING POST - 30.05.09)

One of the most highly publicised author visits of the year will take place in June, when Carlos Ruiz Zafon arrives in the UK. (BOOKBRUNCH.COM - 18.05.08)

The Angel's Game is equally brilliant both in translation and originality... You are left to find your own way out of the labryrinth - a pleasant fate for a reader to have to face. (THE BOOK CATAPULT website)

dripping in atmosphere. It's Super Gothic, an old-fashioned creepy tale... a much darker book... I don't think I can say much more about this book without sounding like I'm gushing. The Angel's Game won't have to be put in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books but it will make on to my Bookshelf of Unlendable Books. If I lent this one out and never got it back there would be hell to pay. (book-a-rama website)

The Angel's Game more than delivered the goods. This is another wonderful convoluted plot set in Barcelona.... Zafon fans will be happy to know that the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is very much a feature. (BOOKSELLER'S CHOICE, JUNE - THE BOOKSELLER 13.3.09 RODNEY TROUBRIDGE, FICTION MARKETING, WATERSTONES)

Anyone who was entranced by Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind cannot fail to feel the same about The Angel's Game. Set in Barcelona again, this time in the 1920s, it takes us back to the same mysterious gothic world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books etc. A young writer, David Martin, makes an impossible deal: in exchange for his life and a fortune he must write a book that will change lives. Simply brilliant and worth staying up most of the night to finish. (BOOKSELLER'S CHOICE, JUNE - THE BOOKSELLER 13.3.09 SARAH CLARKE, DIRECTOR, TORBAY BOOKSHOP)

Fans of Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel... dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY - 06.04.09 BOOK OF THE WEEK)

The novel works on so many levels of eerie enchantment... There is no resisting this... magical world of books. (SAGA - July 09)

an addictive read. (THE IRISH TIMES - 13.06.09)

Another gothic tale about the magic of books and the darkest corners of the human soul (JOHN SPAIN IRISH INDEPENDENT - 02.06.09)

If you're looking for a hearty good read for the summer hols, a book you can doze over by the pool, pack it with the sunscreen and midge repellent. It's got the lot: good setting (Barcelona noir), old fashioned chunky plot, a dash of horror and the merest shaving of raciness... The mysteries within mysteries will be enough to keep you turning pages even after a couple of cervezas. (THE HERALD - 06.06.09)

hugely ambitious (THE SCOTSMAN 30.05.09)

The tale is rich, evocative and literate, with Great Expectations and Faust among its more nakedly displayed influences. Zafon is a great describer, with a cinematic flair for murders and sexual encounters. (NICK CURTIS EVENING STANDARD - 28.05.09)

Will grip you from start to finish. (Emma Lee Potter DAILY EXPRESS - 10.07.09)

Book Description

The stunning new novel from the author of THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book about books 6 Sep 2009
By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Once more author Carlos Ruiz Zafon has produced a magically brilliant book about books with `The Angel's Game' being a supernatural saga, an action-packed thriller, a detective novel and a love story. - and perhaps even a philosophical or religious treatise. It tells a dark and gripping tale with narrative moving at a cracking pace and introducing something new on almost every page. Though a stand-alone novel `The Angel's Game' (about writers) follows from Zafon's first book `The Shadow Of The Wind' (about readers), but for me it is not quite as good. This is partly because, in spite of its compelling nature, it reads as though at least two translators were employed with varied language that is generally elegant and stylish yet sometimes colloquial and abrupt. However the main drawback is the book's proliferation of sub-plots (of which some are left unexplained) and their complicated inter-relations. This complexity undermines any possible plausible solution and for me it leaves the ending somewhat weak. I suspect author Zafon is deliberately provoking readers to use their imaginations and to arrive at their own conclusions. I discussed this with my wife and we had both interpreted things differently - so read it yourself - you won't be disappointed.
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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising 10 Mar 2010
Format:Hardcover
Having recently read Shadow of the Wind I was hungry for more. I was overjoyed to find The Angels Game. There are plots within plots, within plots that leave you dizzy. The story is a dark, Gothic and supernatural thriller that unfolds within the grotesque architecture of old Barcelona, worthy of the surrealism of Mervyn Peake.
I found it difficult to put down and the characters even invaded my dreams. It is laced with nightmare scenarios and impossible situations.
I loved and loathed the hero at different times but wanted him to win against all the odds. Zafon's characters leap off the page and the humour is sharp and often crops up when you least expect it.
The ending left many unanswered questions hanging in the air but was none the less satisfying. Zafon has two more books he is writing in this series. I personally feel that he will revisit the open ends in this book later on and bring them to a satisfactory conclusion; I certainly hope so and look forward to them.
Read, open your mind and let your imagine roam the dark and mysterious world of The Angels Game. You will not be disappointed.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb writing but horribly unfulfilling. 15 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
Cor, I'm mad. I feel like writing to the author or publisher, not only for my money back, but for the 3 hours I spent, obsessively reading the last half of this book (unwashed children, hungry cats, unanswered phone) only to find that nothing is answered.

From the moment I started to read The Angel's Game, I realised that we were in the hands of a master - I have since discovered that it is a translation and enormous kudos must go to the translator - from a nuts and bolts writing point of view, this is superb.

However - the plot twists and turns, frequently making one unable to suspend disbelief and ending in a woolly, completely unsatisfactory manner. Perhaps the author and publisher felt that the fame Zafor realized for his earlier book (which I have not read) excused sloppy and ill-conceived structure?

I'm afraid to say that The Angel's Game is a meandering story that whilst both gripping and visually fascinating will leave most readers at the end, gritting their teeth with irritation and feeling both confused and short-changed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm going to have to read this again. 16 Nov 2009
Format:Hardcover
Shadow of the wind is now one of my favourite books so when I saw 'The Angel's Game' in a Granada book shop last year I couldn't wait for the English translation to come out. The Angel's Game drew me in intially, although I was disappointed with the lack of interesting characters - it lacks a Fermin-, but half way through I felt let down. It was almost as if the author had lost interest in his own story and was struggling to keep it going.
I shall have to read this again to see if I 'lost the plot' but it definitely disappointed after 'Shadow of the Wind'.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What the heck actually happened? 17 Oct 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't decide, am I: a) thick b) being shown it's a mistake to read 'out of my genre' or c) at the mercy of a monstrously talented writer who has - literally - lost the plot(s)?!

As an hispanophile author I was drawn to this novel about writing novels, set in Barcelona; although supernatural happenings and body counts aren't my thing, I thought I'd cope. But I soon found myself saying 'yeah, yeah' every time something spooky happened or we were going down yet another over-described gloomy street or corridor 'knowing we were not alone'. Near the end of the novel we were doing practically nothing else, and I became increasingly confused as to who had done what. But I hung on in there as I cared about the characters and had a naive trust that all would be revealed. It wasn't - or not to me anyway.

It's maddening, there's an amazing story in here, some beautiful writing, interesting ideas. It amused me and moved me. Like all good novels, it's stayed with me and I'm not yet ready to start another. But for heavens' sake, what the heck actually happened?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A maelstrom of murderous twists 4 May 2010
Format:Paperback
If ever a book left me feeling I could never make it as an author then Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Angel's Game is it. Set in pre-civil war Barcelona Zafón's tale of intrigue and murder twists and turns at relentless speed.

The Angel's Game features writer David Martìn, son of a drunken father and a disinterested, absent mother. Martìn is thrown into the somewhat seedy realm of journalism after his father is murdered in the street and the young David is taken under the wing of Señor Vidal, one of the city's wealthy sons. Taking pity on the lad Vidal finds David a job at the offices of a newspaper he has connections with, and quickly becomes David's mentor, friend and benefactor.

As David Martìn moves up, down and sideways through the world of writing his own life becomes as strange as the penny dreadfuls he pens. Taking up residence in the mysterious, derelict Tower House the young author writes day and night until he can barely breathe. He rarely eats, he never sleeps. His volatile existence is fuelled by cigarettes, coffee and alcohol.

Even with the constants of Vidal's support and friendship, the all-seeing eye of bookseller Señor Sempere and the unrequited love of the beautiful and unobtainable Cristina, a barrage of events dart at Martìn from every direction. Violence hangs around every corner. Ghosts from the past come unbidden into the here and now. The Tower House reveals itself. We are left in no doubt that all is not as it seems.

David Martìn's Barcelona is a surreal place of twisting alleys and sprawling mansions, steamy docklands and towering mountains.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good read
Published 14 days ago by G W
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Loved it.
Published 18 days ago by Peter Schaad
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great from the Spanish master
Carl Ruiz Zafón is one of the best thriller writters -
Published 21 days ago by T Harrington
5.0 out of 5 stars The best
Brilliant.Unputdownable
Published 25 days ago by alan browning
5.0 out of 5 stars Great sequel
I loved Prisoner of Heaven so could not wait to read this and it did not disappoint. Another book that was hard to put down.
Published 2 months ago by sam
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing compelling
i really enjoyed getting to know the characters in this book. zafon is fast becoming a favoured writer, after shadow of the wind i just had to read more. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Soulsurfer
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read
Much easier to follow than Shadow of the Winds. Strong characters, with unexpected twists. Will go back and read Shadow again now before moving on to the third part of the trilogy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dr. A. Rogers
3.0 out of 5 stars Not in the same league as 'Shadow of the Wind'.
Having read Shadow of the wind by the same author I was a little disappointed by this book which drags along rather tediously unlike its startlingly imaginative and thrilling... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Maurellius
4.0 out of 5 stars Great author
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a great writer, and I bought this book after reading 'The Shadow Of The Wind'. I can recommend both!
Published 5 months ago by L.BobbyG.-S.
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read
A book that keeps you gripped from beginning to end.
It has everything. Full of romance and a thriller that keeps you riveted till the last page.
Published 5 months ago by Gillyanne
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