Book Review: The Angel’s Game

I eagerly awaited the release of The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon as his previous novel, The Shadow of the Wind, is one of my favorite books. However, while The Shadow of the Wind was a fairly straightforward mystery, The Angel’s Game left me confused. Was it an example of magical realism or a character study of a man slowly going insane?

This is the story of David Martin, a gifted, but unlucky writer, who accepts a commission from a mysterious publisher. In return, Martin is given a second chance at life and a great deal of money. But who is this publisher and what does he have to do with Martin’s house and its previous owner? This is what Martin sets out to discover, but when people start dying, Martin becomes the prime suspect.

The plot is worthy of Zafon; the prose is dark and elegant. However, I thought the middle dragged a bit. I didn’t feel that Martin’s motivation was strong enough. Why should he have sought out the truth behind Marlasca’s death? Because the man once owned Martin’s house? Big deal. Because the man wrote the book Martin chose from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? More plausible (if you’ve read The Shadow of the Wind), but still not sufficient.

If I were going to recommend Zafon to a friend, I would tell them to read The Shadow of the Wind. It is by far the better book, and, if it is a 5, then The Angel’s Game is a 4.

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