Sunday 8 May 2011

The Angel's Game - Another Masterpiece from Spaniard Zafon

The Angel's Game is the second novel from Carlos Ruiz Zafon's planned tetralogy. In the first one, The Shadow of the Wind, we were introduced to the streets of Barcelona. We met the charming Daniel and we followed him as he discovered the secrets of the mysterious Julian Carax and his novel of the same name. A book heavily soaked with the tender atmosphere of the Barcelona streets, a book that combines history, love, suspense, and thriller. A book that keeps you awake in the middle of the night, dying to know what happens next. When you finish it, you know you want more from Zafon.

The Angel's Game is different. We are back in Barcelona and we are once more submerged into a story about the ultimate power of novels. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books again plays a central role, this time in David Martin's life. David is a writer with a difficult childhood. His mother leaves him and later his father dyes; David is left alone to deal with the complexity and unfairness of life. Slowly but surely the young man's literary talent is discovered. He spends years writing books he doesn't feel reflect his true personality just to survive. Until he meets a strange publisher, who offers him a strange deal. David is to sell his soul, to release all that makes him human in order to produce a literary masterpiece, a religious book that has the power to control the masses through subordination to a given faith. However, David doesn't realize that this arrangement is going to lead to ominous consequences. The young man finds the novel of his predecessor, also tempted by the strange man, moves into his house, and falls into the maelstrom of terrible events. People around him start dying suspiciously as Martin gets closer to discovering the secret behind the mysterious publisher, the death of the previous hired writer, and his role in the whole story.

To say that one or the either novel is better is impossible. They are just different. As the author himself states, The Shadow of the Wind is the good daughter, who always comes home on time and brings joy to her parents. The Angel's Game is the bad daughter. She is naughty, dark, suspicious, and always causing trouble. In that sense, The Angel's Game is a novel about the dark side of life. It is much more brutal, much more violent, and in fact much more insidious and honest. A mystery thriller with a light touch of fantasy, the book is a masterful tale about the power of the books and the darkest parts of the human soul. The Angel's Game will make you shiver and look behind your back in the middle of the night. But it will also make you reconsider the limits of human obsession and the devastation effects such an obsession can have on an individual.

Barcelona, books, thriller, and a touch of love just for flavor, Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels are chef d'oeuvres of contemporary literature. The following two books of the tetralogy may be the most waited books in the literary world. At least for me.

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