Posted by: Ele Quigan | June 30, 2010

‘The Angel’s Game’ Carlos Ruiz Zafon (or who is Andreas Corelli?)

Back to my holiday from a few weeks back, this was the other book that I managed to finish (I actually read it on the plane on the way there…)

It’s a prequel to his other book ‘Shadow of the Wind’ – also set in Barcelona (however a decade or so earlier) with a few of the same characters.

It almost feels like it’s a slightly different perspective on the same events – a book about books, but this time it’s the writers who get the treatment.

I enjoyed it much more than ‘Shadow’ – without revealing too much of the plot, it again involves the bookstore, the cemetery of forgotten books (the one place that I am going to find next time I’m in Barcelona), the gothic quarters of a wondrous city that has as many different passages and avenues as it does secrets. It’s a lot darker, more mysterious – I found that I didn’t want to put it down and felt like I needed to read till the end so I could get to the profound and unexpected climax…

I have been to a few places mentioned, in particular one which is a tapas bar near the Picasso museum. Reading about it brought back memories of the old men eating tapas, sipping sherry and wine communicating in a language that we had no hope of understanding… I could almost picture Daniel Martin at this bar as well.

It was a lot darker than I initially thought it was going to be. Gothic and faustian, but also with a subtext that leaves you wondering what exactly happened after you get to the last page. I rushed to the Internet after we got home to find out if anyone else agreed with what I thought (seems so…) however there are several twists and unexpected turns to leave you wondering…

If anyone else read it, I’d like to know what they thought ‘the book’ Daniel Martin wrote was all about – and who was Andreas Corelli???

It’s beautifully written, rich in imagery and context – if I could compare it to anything, I’d compare it to ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. A parable as well, and based in a similar time period, the gothic themes and almost horror are also delivered in a similar way. Definitely an excellent novel, and well worth another read (or two even!) to pick up the subtleties to the plot that I no doubt missed the first time round.



  1. […] measured against my atheist bent. However more often than not I enjoy such novels – Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s ‘The Angel’s Game’ wrote the last one I […]

  2. I finished “The Angel’s Game” last night and reading it was like being in a maze of dark twists and turns with no end in sight. Even by the last page, I felt that Zafon had to end the book because he was exhausted, but I, the reader, still was left in limbo. Who was Corelli? Why wasn’t David aging? Where did the young Cristina come from?

    O.K. So I get it. Ruiz Zafon plans to write 2 more books connected with the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, But I, the reader, am a mere mortal and when I finish a book I want the mysteries solved. What if I am unable to read the future books? I cannot give author high marks for this book because I can only describe it as an unfinished labyrinth and I expect more of an author of a good novel than this.

    • @Reeda Shore: I think Zafon was never exhausted. The book is awesome because it contains cultural references, but one needs to have read some things to understand them. For example, David not ageing is taken from “The Portrait of Dorian Grey”. The world was crumbling, he destroyed all that he loved, he destroyed himself. Immortality was merely Corelli’s “gift” to him for not writing the book. Immortality is a punishment, same as watching Cristina age and die. Why live forever if you have nothing to live for? David is a walking corpse, no grace lives in his soul.

      And Corelli is the same person who is called Woland in Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” or Mephistopheles in Goethe’s “”Faust”. He’s Satan. Just like the Master “won 100 000 in a lottery” which gave him freedom to write the Gospel according to Satan, David also received 100 000 from Corelli to write a new “religion”. It was a pack with the devil in exchange for knowledge.

      If you haven’t read Bulgakov yet, please do – you will love it. There are several translations into English, but the latest one is the best one. It’s one of the best books in he world literature.

  3. huge fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafron and speaking of Andreas Corelli he is also mentioned in his new novel “The watcher in the Shadows” the story was a bit dull in the beginning but believe me i was excited that Corelli was mentioned-from what i read he requires the soul of any creator (secret to his never ending youth)–anyone whom works really hard and long on a piece-i.e David Martin writing the book but storing it away…however this time it was a watchmaker he asked to him to make a very special watch for him. Definitely some parallels

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