A wonderful read with the atmospheric, compelling, mysterious feel of "The Shadow of the Wind". Connections to the characters and places of the first book are here, but the story is a different journey altogether. It is a perplexing, supernatural page-turner. It is a very enjoyable read, but I was somewhat disappointed and left pondering the ending.
This is Book 2 in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, even though its events occur in the timeline prior to The Shadow of the Wind.
Let me begin by saying that The Shadow of the Wind is one of my all-time favorite books. I was hesitant to read The Angel's Game because I heard mixed reviews about it and because I knew that nothing could match the haunting beauty of its predecessor. I didn't want to be disappointed. Unfortunately (or perhaps predictably) I was.
Don't get me wrong: most of this book was very, very good. But in the last 50 pages or so, the plot totally collapsed under its own weight. I was left in the dark on so many important points and found myself with far too many unanswered questions. And I'm not talking about the philosophically unanswered questions that leave you pondering the meaning of things (those I am ok with). I am talking about the "Wait...that's IT? What on earth just HAPPENED?!?" kind of unanswered questions that make you think your copy must have been missing more than a few very important pages.
In the end, I think Zafon just tried to do too much. He seemed to have lost his grip on the threads of his own story and everything unraveled as a result. The ending was also needlessly complex, and even Zafon himself seems to have gotten lost in the convoluted maze of this messy plot. There were too many twists and turns, too many dead bodies, too many shifting identities, and too many key plot points that were completely unexplained. It's a shame, really. Zafon had something really great and it ended in absolute and unresolved confusion. I'm still not sure what actually happened, or what it was supposed to mean. Read this book and savor it until the last few chapters, but don't hold out any hope for a satisfying ending. That way, you might not feel quite so disappointed, and I won't have to say "I told you so."
Shadow of the Wind is one of my favorite books, so I could not wait to pick up Zafon's newest. As in SotW, the writing is gorgeous. Zafon's writing is so beautiful and fluid, and the translation was perfection. The story is about David Martin, a young writer who has become increasingly jaded and cynical about the publishing industry. He rents an old house with some of his earnings, and he slowly becomes tangled in the house's past. He is commissioned to write a book by a mysterious boss. He begins to find parallels between the previous house owner and the strange things that are happening to him. And then the death toll begins to rise...
My only qualm with the book was the last part, where it got a little confusing and seemed almost out of place. However, since I so enjoy Zafon's storytelling, I still couldn't put it down. Not quite as good as SotW, but still an enjoyable read, and I look forward to Zafon's next installment.
OK, from the perspective of pure literary criticism, this book is overwrought.
However, from my personal perspective: "OMG, it has all the awesome!" ;-)
A worthy followup to Shadow of the Wind, this tale of a young writer with 'great expectations' who is pulled into an infernal contract is wickedly delightful. It's Faust meets pulp fiction.
Its vivid and accurate depictions of Barcelona made me hunger to go back to the city... even if Zafon does claim it's "damned".
I almost labeled it fantasy. If you start this book, please put aside the time so you can finish it rapidly! I took a week break, and felt lost coming back because of the threads of the plot I hadn't held on to.
It is a fascinating book, worth the time, and it doesn't quite fit where you expect it. The mystical aspects are stronger here than in his first book (The Shadow of the Wind), and that's a negative in my opinion. My wife and I were both somewhat puzzled and dissatisfied with the epilogue/resolution. I enjoyed the characters, the intrigue, and the twisting plot. Overall, recommended.
Set earlier in the Shadow of the Wind universe, Carlos Ruiz Zafón's The Angel's Game is another treat. Written in the same style, lyrical and at times cynically humorous, this prequel is the story of David Martín, a talented writer of humble beginnings who writes sensationalist thrillers for his livelihood instead of true literature from his soul. He is courted by a mysterious French publisher to write an ultimate novel with an offer he can't refuse, only to have the shadows from the past having him question the intentions of his new boss. Against the backdrop of Barcelona, the labyrinthine plot winds through crumbling old houses (including the tower house David inhabits), the Sempere and Sons bookshop, and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, with another cast of interesting characters. However, things are not explained to the same satisfying degree at the end in this novel about books and the people who love them.
I am reading a library loaner and so far I'm enjoying this book, the story is enthralling. I woke up in the middle of the night this week, I grabbed the book hoping it would put me to sleep and it kept me reading until it was time to get up for work. (On page 110 of 531, 11/14/2013).
Once again Zafon has written another breathtaking book which left me disappointed in the ending. He is a fabulous writer but somehow in this book, as well as in The Shadow of the Wind (for which this book is a sort of prequel), the last 50 pages or so just don't live up to the expectations created by the previous 450 pages. It's like he doesn't know how to end the stories after they have gone on for so long, so he just ties up his loose ends too fast and any which way, and fails to leave one feeling like the book ended in a satisfactory manner.