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June, 2016: Fantasy > The Angel's Game / Carlos Ruiz Zafón - 5*****

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message 1: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5529 comments I wouldn't use the tag ... but enough others have (293 users) to put it on the book's main page!

The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Book on CD narrated by Dan Stevens.
5*****

Opening lines: A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price.

A reader never forgets the first Zafón novel s/he reads.

David Martín is a writer who has agreed to churn out penny dreadful mysteries for a publishing house that pays him little, and controls his creative output. He lives in an old, dilapidated mansion, with secrets of its own. An orphan, he leads a relatively solitary life, but he does have a few friends, including Senor Sempere, owner of Sempere & Sons bookshop, Pedro Vidal a mentor at his former newspaper job, and Isabella, the daughter of the grocery store owners and his new assistant. And then he receives an offer he cannot refuse – a chance to create a masterpiece and achieve immortality.

Wow. The plot is intricate and compelling, the characters complex and interesting, and the writing is simply wonderful. And, of course, we have the marvelous Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

This is a dark, gothic novel full of mystery and intrigue. At heart it is a story of man’s struggle against his baser instincts. It seems only the women are able to achieve any goodness in their lives. Martín is in turns brash, as befits a man in his twenties, passionate, confused, exhausted and fierce. Isabella is a perfect counterpoint – steady, logical, concerned, and practical.

Although there are many twists in the plot, Zafón keeps some major surprises for the ending. It’s a haunting work, and I think it will be a long, long time (or perhaps never) before it is consigned to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Dan Stevens is simply marvelous performing the audio version. He has good pacing and is able to accurately pronounce the Spanish and (I assume) French phrases / names. His gift for voices is well-suited to this work; he is even successful portraying the women. His Andreas Corelli is appropriately “oily” while Martín sounds like the young, self-educated writer he is.


message 2: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 428 comments Fantastic review! I was about to go add this to my TBR when I realized that its the second book in the series, and The Shadow of the Wind is already on my TBR. Have you read that one as well?


message 3: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments I didn't love this one as much as The Shadow of the Wind. I got a bit confused by the ending. I will say that Zafon can really write and uses a great translator!!


message 4: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) | 524 comments Same as JoLene: I absolutely adored The Shadow of the Wind, but wasn't able to get into this one as much, even though I read it twice.


message 5: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5529 comments Nicole wrote: "Fantastic review! I was about to go add this to my TBR when I realized that its the second book in the series, and The Shadow of the Wind is already on my TBR. Have you read that one as well?"

Yes, I read SotW first ... back in 2005

My Review is rather sparse because I wasn't a goodreads member back then.


message 6: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5529 comments Oh, and while The Shadow of the Wind was written first, The Angel's Game is a "prequel" - taking place some 15 years before SotW...


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