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The Angel's Gameby Carlos Ruiz Zafon
If you've read The Shadow of the Wind, you won't need to read another word — you were likely so enthralled with Carlos Ruiz Zafón's breathtaking literary thriller that you've already ordered your copy of Angel's Game. For those who don't know, Zafón is a masterful storyteller whose Cemetery of Forgotten Books will enchant every lover of books.
Synopses & Reviews
Stephen King hailed of Carlos Ruiz Zafón's previous novel, the internationally bestselling sensation The Shadow of the Wind: "If you thought the true gothic novel died with the nineteenth century, this will change your mind...the real deal...one gorgeous read."
Now master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafón returns with The Angel's Game, a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love.
"The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I wanted to believe that, when I opened those windows, its streets would whisper stories to me, secrets I could capture on paper and narrate to whomever cared to listen..."
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martín, 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 lie photographs and 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. Close to despair, 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 unlike anything that has ever existed — a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.
Once again, Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in The Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
"Fans of Zafón's The Shadow of the Wind and new readers alike will be delighted with this gothic semiprequel. In 1920s Barcelona, David Martin is born into poverty, but, aided by patron and friend Pedro Vidal, he rises to become a crime reporter and then a beloved pulp novelist. David's creative pace is frenetic; holed up in his dream house — a decrepit mansion with a sinister history — he produces two great novels, one for Vidal to claim as his own, and one for himself. But Vidal's book is celebrated while David's is buried, and when Vidal marries David's great love, David accepts a commission to write a story that leads him into danger. As he explores the past and his mysterious publisher, David becomes a suspect in a string of murders, and his race to uncover the truth is a delicious puzzle: is he beset by demons or a demon himself? Zafón's novel is detailed and vivid, and David's narration is charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design, remains thrilling and bewildering. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Caveat lector: If you believe the only proper place for pulp is in your orange juice, then, for pity's sake, steer clear of Carlos Ruiz Zafon. In his much-loved "The Shadow of the Wind" and in this new offering, no trope of popular fiction is off limits, and nothing succeeds like excess. You will either nod approvingly when someone bangs typewriter keys until his fingers bleed or an old widow croaks,... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) "This city is damned. Damned," or else you will strap yourself down for a minimalist drip of Raymond Carver and Ann Beattie. Word magic is Zafon's subject and also his MO, and he's not particular about where he finds it. The hero of "The Angel's Game" is a penurious young author named David Martin, who spends his days churning out Grand Guignol penny dreadfuls. His one true love, Cristina, has been claimed by David's mentor, the rakish Don Pedro Vidal, who dwells in a grand villa in the hills. David, by contrast, molders in a gloomy, funky-smelling tower in Barcelona's oldest and darkest quarter. He's being bled dry by his publishers, he has almost no friends and no life to speak of. Did I mention he's got terminal brain cancer? Along comes Andreas Corelli, a suave Parisian with an enticing offer: He will give David 100,000 francs to write a book or, more precisely, "create a religion." A year's work, and David will be free and clear. Or will he? Our hero is a little slow on the uptake, but the alert reader will note that Corelli has icy cold lips and the leer of a jackal and a taste for midnight meetings and chiaroscuro compositions. He neither ages nor blinks, and his estate is guarded by a trio of dogs, presumably descendants of the three-headed Cerberus. "You and I, my friend, are going to do great things together," promises Corelli. Sure enough, David's health takes an immediate change for the better, the nasty publishers who've been keeping him on slave wages die in a convenient fire, and even the lovely Cristina shows signs of wanting to return. If David can just finish that book he's contracted to write, he might finally taste happiness. And if you think I've given away too much of the story, please know that it's just beginning and that you are in exceptionally good hands the whole way. Zafon can write up a storm. In fact, he can write up all sorts of storms: rain, ice, fire. It's hard, really, to find anything missing from his arsenal: zesty atmosphere, crackling dialogue, arresting epigrams ("Theory is the practice of the impotent. ... Sooner or later, the word becomes flesh and the flesh bleeds.") Plus a lively troupe of players, notably Isabella, the shopkeeper's daughter who barges her way into David's house and our affections. Best of all: 1920s Barcelona, a city whose blend of old-world rot and modernist aspiration makes it ideally suited to the author's purposes. Zafon gets full mileage from the brothels and Gothic piles and numberless necropolises and mausoleums, and for good measure, he devises a resting place all his own: an underground Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where visitors are encouraged to adopt some obscure tome and keep it alive for future generations. It's safe to say "The Angel's Game" won't be forgotten anytime soon, if only because it offers such a glut of reading pleasure. Only a churl — that is, a reviewer — would ask himself: At what point does excess become excessive? For me, the question arose somewhere after the 12th or 13th corpse. I couldn't quite figure out why all these people were dying in such hyperbolic fashion. (Something to do with curses and imprisoned souls and the Witch of Somorrostro.) More worrisomely, I couldn't figure out what stake I had in any of it. The leads are partly to blame — David's a bit of a downer, and Cristina's a simp — and the book's postlude, intended to evoke love's timelessness, succeeds only in being creepy. Without that secure emotional infrastructure, the chinks in Zafon's edifice gape a little wider. Why does David wait the length of a whole chapter before reading an urgent letter from his mistress? And what's with the long and frankly tedious philosophical debates between David and Corelli? And why does someone with a satanically guaranteed life span worry about being killed? And in a book so rife with texts, why is there not a single passage from the book David has contracted to write? Come to think of it, why does the Devil need a ghostwriter in the first place? Perhaps he is just, like Zafon, a sucker for the printed word. "Every book, every volume you see, has a soul," intones Barcelona's caretaker of forgotten books. "The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens." I gently beg to differ. Not every book has a soul; not every book cries out to be remembered. As for the spirit of literature growing and strengthening ... well, to quote another fictional sojourner in 1920s Spain: "Isn't it pretty to think so?" In the end, we are best advised to treat "The Angel's Game" as a dream from which it would be imprudent to awake. But it's nice while it lasts. Reviewed by Louis Bayard, whose most recent novel is 'The Black Tower', Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Once again, Zafón proves himself a magician, vividly invoking bygone Barcelona while unscrolling a byzantine plot at breakneck pace....[A] feast." Booklist
"Zafón delivers a warning about the dangers of obsession, mixed with an obvious passion for literature and the printed word." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] pact-with-the-devil tale whose only purpose is to give its readers some small intimation of the darker pleasures of the literary arts, the weird thrill of storytelling without conscience." New York Times
From the author of the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind comes The Angel's Game, a new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love. Through a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
In the turbulent and mysterious Barcelona of the 1920s, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with a forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before — a book for which "people will live and die." In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more.
Once again, the author of The Shadow of the Wind takes us into the gothic universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy, and a dizzingly constructed labyrinth of secrets where the magic of books, passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
About the Author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of The Shadow of the Wind and other novels. After Cervantes, he is the most widely read Spanish author of all time. His work has been translated into more than forty languages and published around the world, garnering numerous international prizes and reaching millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los Angeles.
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