The Angel’s Game review

Angel's GameI have not yet had the pleasure of reading The Shadow of the Wind, the sensational antecedent to The Angel’s Game, so I am unable to use that particular yardstick to take the measure of the second book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Great expectations have been placed on this long-awaited follow up, and they factor into the story as well. The events of The Angel’s Game precede those of The Shadow of the Wind, so there is no harm in reading the second book first. If The Shadow of the Wind is superior to The Angel’s Game then it must be truly sublime!

Despite the sublime sounding title, The Angel’s Game is more of a danse macabre. Multiple cemeteries are revisited, including the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Death is never far away, as the Great War looms and families are torn asunder.

David Martín is an orphan – his mother abandoned him and his father was murdered – but he is not without sponsors, Senor Sempere of the Sempere & Sons bookstore and Don Pedro Vidal, playboy and author, among them. They open the doors of literature to young Martín and he plunges headlong into the unfathomable depths. There he meets another patron, the mysterious French publisher Andreas Corelli, who holds the metaphysical key to Martín’s greatest expectations.

Corelli is the Mephistopheles to Martín’s Faust (in true reverse order I am currently reading Goethe’s Faust), and when Martín breaks his pact with the fallen angel the consequences are dire. Martín repeatedly loses Cristina, his Margaret, and is ultimately redeemed through the intervention of Isabella, the mother of Daniel Sempere, the protaganist of The Shadow of the Wind.

It may be that The Angel’s Game is overshadowed by The Shadow of the Wind, but it is beautifully written and translated nevertheless, and I certainly recommend it.



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