Published by Doubleday Books
Publication date: June 16th 2009
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
If you love to read then there is likely to be a time in which you find yourself reading a string of books that follow a similar theme or contain a singular element. A literary synchronicity, if you will. For me, this occurred several months ago and the reviews posted this week are of that time. The unintentional theme was darkness. Each of these three books is well written, critically acclaimed or by a well-known author but all were so dark. The kind of dark it feels like much of the world is sinking into right now. Rather than try and pretend it’s not out there these books invite you in to places you might never have known on your own. For some, it is not a journey they want to take, but for others the experience is worth it. If you choose to read them, pace yourself and intersperse your reading with some Sophie Kinsella or Maria Semple. Keep your happy on.
The Angel’s Game is the second novel in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s loosely knit trilogy, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I listened to it which was marvelous, as it was read by a narrator who used both British and Spanish accents, deepening the feeling of immersion in the story. The book is about David Martin, a writer who achieves a measure of success while writing cheap thrillers under a pseudonym. He moves into an abandoned mansion and begins a relationship with a mysterious man who wears an angel pin; a man who pays him an enormous sum of money to write a book that will change the hearts of men. For David, this challenge is too good to resist, after years of anonymously written pulp crime stories. From there the story builds layer upon gothic layer of misfortune, misunderstanding, pain, loss and grief.
Zafon’s first book, The Shadow of the Wind, was another baroque world of larger than life gestures, pain and suffering but at its end there was hope and redemption. At the end of The Angel’s Game there is only more despair, as David realizes his search has come full circle and he is now condemned to live the life of the man he condemned. There is no hope, but the writing is still lush, rich and a mystical world is created. Even if the ending leaves the reader bleak, Zafon has the ability to transport them to whatever world he creates.