Books · Reviews

(audio) Book Thoughts: The Angel’s Game (Carlos Ruiz Zafón)

A touch of the gothic in atmospheric Barcelona

★★★★☆ 1/2 – CALSPIE 8.86

Title: The Angel’s Game (El juego del ángel)
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Narrator: Dan Stevens / Translator: Lucia Graves (from Spanish)
Genre: Historical Fiction / Magical Realism
First published: 2008
Edition: Audio & Paperback, published by Phoenix Fiction in 2010

David Martín is a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat. Holed up in a haunting abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, he furiously taps out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated; thus, when he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But as he begins the work, and after a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he realizes there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own. 


To be honest, my expectations of this novel were not that high. I loved The Shadow of the Wind and all that I had heard was that this one was not as good and apparently in my mind I had turned that into ‘bad’. Bad brain! Luckily, this novel proved me very much wrong! I may not beat the aforementioned novel, but it’s close enough for me.

What the author does very well is build a main protagonist, a suitably unsettling antagonist, and a whole lot of atmosphere. Barcelona felt like almost another character in the plot, so beautifully done! The plot had me hooked in some places and confused and lost in others and perhaps the book was a little longer than it needed to be, but overall I thought this was a great gothic-feeling novel.

There was mystery in this novel as well as a pretty dark undertone and doomed romance, but there were also beautiful aspects, such as the reluctant friendship between David and Isabella.

I listened to this on audio and the narrator did a fantastic job. I really felt he pulled me into the story. I do think this kind of atmospheric story lends itself particularly well to audio.

I was not sure about this one for the first couple of chapters, but once I was hooked I was all in and loved it. The ending however… I am not sure… I will need to brood on that.

I look forward to reading the next book.

4.5 out of 5 stars



  • Characters: 9
  • Ambience: 10
  • Language: 9
  • Story: 8.5
  • Pacing: 8
  • Interest: 9
  • Enjoyment: 8.5

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