A Strange Game


Often times while reading Carlos Ruiz Zafón‘s novel The Angel’s Game, I often had moments where I said to myself, “what even is this book?” But absolutely not in a bad way–I really enjoyed it!

The Angel’s Game follows David Martín, a writer who starts in journalism (hey, same!) and ends up writing a thriller story in serial form. After some success, he signs a contract with a publishing house, who kinda sucks his soul away. While writing for them, he meets the mysterious Andreas Corelli, or “the boss,” who wants him to write…a religion. It’s all very complicated and dark, with questions abounding and secret plots being spun.

It’s captivating, but there’s a lot going on, so hang tight!

From the get-go, it’s fairly clear that things are not what they seem in Martín’s Barcelona. When he goes to a cabaret only to go back and see that it’s been burned down, that should have been his first red flag. The fact that everyone’s afraid of “the tower house” and advises him against renting it–because it’s haunted and the former owner died under strange circumstances (involving fire, depending on who you ask)–should have been another red flag. The mysterious publisher, who no one has heard of, only to find out later that his publishing house burned down, should have been a red flag too! There’s a major fire motif throughout the book, and while some of it seems to be destructive, it also seems…purifying?

Anywho, things get more interesting when Martín ends up with an assistant, Isabella–not going to lie, I thought maybe she’d help him get over his unrequited love. The story takes a bit of a turn, rather than Martín simply ignoring all these crazy happenings in town and being utterly consumed by his writing, he starts to develop a more complex personality. He’s still selfish, but he grows a bit, he becomes a little more aware, he doubts the boss and what he’s really after. I would go so far as to say that Isabella’s pig-headedness is what leads Martín to uncover the complicated past of the tower house, its former owner, and this just really bizarre underworld.

I’m really struggling to not give away too much of the plot–The Angel’s Game is a beautifully complicated and captivating story that you just need to read. Ruiz Zafón excels at description and dialogue; he knows when to show and when to tell. I loved that the story was told from first person because he knows how to make you really feel like you’re in Martín’s shoes–you feel his curiosity, his fear, his sorrow. Somehow, even though an omniscient narrator would be nice (Corelli kind of deserves a book all of his own–who is he?!), the first person perspective is perfect because it lets Ruiz Zafón drag you along through this crazy ride.

Perhaps my only minor gripe is that the first part of the book is just so much exposition. It’s definitely interesting, you want to know how it was that Martín was able to go to a cabaret, only to be told, days later, that the place burned down years ago. But I didn’t need to know that every time people saw him, they were concerned for his health. There were just a few spots that seemed extra slow compared to the fast paced second and third (especially) parts of the book; or even the incredibly engaging scenes sprinkled throughout.

I loved the characters and while there was certainly a lot happening in the plot, I thought it was incredibly well thought out and captivating. Ruiz Zafón definitely forces readers to ask questions, and it makes the story that much better. Finally, what makes this novel really great is that it has the ability to appeal to so many readers–there’s some romance, drama, obviously mystery, and for my friends in the writing community (of Twitter and beyond), it’s very meta. You can feel how much Martín loves literature, and especially writing it; so, there’s that little personal touch that was just *chef’s kiss* perfecto! (Plus the book just reinforced my want…no need…to go to Spain, so whenever a book does that, imho, it’s a keeper!)

That’s all I’ve got for now! I’ll be taking August off of reviews, but I might treat y’all to a poem or something, so keep your eyes peeled. I’ll be back in September, so don’t worry. 🙂

Happy Reading!


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