Title: The Angel's Game
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Year: 2008 (UK 2009)
Read on: 06/07/09
My thoughts: I have been waiting to read this book for a long time. I loved the Shadow of the Wind so much and I knew that this was set in the same sort of place, so when I went to Spain last summer and I saw it in Spanish I couldn't help myself and I bought it. Then I realized that it's not the Spanish that I knew, but it's the Barcelona dialect, which was impossible for me to read. So I sold that version and I had to wait till last month when it was finally released in English. I have to say that the book matched all my expectations, and went beyond that. Ruiz Zafon is a person I admire and respect immensely for the way he manages to write such interesting, dark, complicated stories that evolve around the most unusual 'heroes' and manage to evoke a wide variety of feelings and reactions, but also include ideas of the author, such as issues of identity, life and death, writing to leave something of yourself, the consequences of specific choices, desperation, expectations... And this book is, in a way, all about those 'great expectations' that the protagonist always remembers. It's funny, witty, dark, terrifying, intriguing and moving. Ruiz Zafon doesn't give us a happy and predictable story. He gives us characters that could be real people, that we can imagine and that we get attached to. He gives us a story that slowly develops and draws the reader into it. He gives us a series of wonderful quotes on life, purpose and the meaning of things, and some extremely moving moments whose images are so vivid in our eyes. He has this way of giving life to every single character that he creates, and providing them with history, purpose and reasons behind their actions, making us really care for every single one of them. It's a story about the supernatural in everyday lives and the consequences that a single gesture can have on a person and everyone around them. It's about good and evil, and it's a battle against the unknown and a history that seems to belong to the past. And of course, it's about Barcelona.
It's one of those books that I could read so many times, because it really speaks to me. In a way, I am almost jealous of the author because I wish I had written something like that. In another, I'm completely blown away by its atmosphere and by the perfect ending, which puts together real people and just the right amount of magic.