The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I accidentally bumped into The Shadow of the Wind and fell in love with Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s writing. Shadow is the first of the series The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The second one is The Angel’s Game. 

A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange of a story.

That line was the killer. The moment I opened the book and read that first line, I knew that I would love the book. I knew that I wouldn’t sleep for the next days to come.

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Set in 1900s Barcelona, the story was about David Martin, who was beaten by his father for reading books. His life intertwined with Sempere and Son because of his love of books.

He grew up in The Voice of the Industry, a publication where he developed his writing skills. Later on, he signed up with a publishing company that bled him dry and earned a lot from him.

He lived in a dark tower that the city has abandoned for so many years, where a quirky ‘assistant’ Isabella joined him.

His friend Vidal married his first love, Cristina.

He signs up with a mysterious publisher Andreas Corelli, who gave him an offer of a lifetime that also made his life darkly complicated. Martin sold his soul to the devil.


Reading the whole book was like watching a sepia-colored movie on an old television. The storytelling was so vivid; the dialogues were so solid and poetic.

The first half of the book was so strong that the arguments about faith and religion between Martin and Corelli were mind-blowing. The second half was like an action-packed film as the police hunted Martin over deaths that he didn’t do.

At one point, I got confused if Martin was telling the truth or he had gone crazy, or he was cursed or enchanted that his reality was different from what the police found out, or the police were telling a lie to point out all the deaths to Martin.

The story was so dark, violent, and creepy. So creepy that it haunted me, and I slept for four nights with the lights on. I could not remove Andreas Corelli’s creepy eyes from my mind. I felt shivers down my spine.

There were very few light moments in the story, and one was Martin’s meetings with the Librarian, Eulalia. Her role was so short, but I liked her character.

Another person that brought some glow to the story was Isabella. She’s quirky and intelligent but annoying. I always thought she loved Martin, and I was rooting for her until she annoyed me.

Sempere and Son were the main characters in the Shadow. All the while, I thought that in this book, they had taken a different path. I thought this book was like a parallel universe of the Sempere and Son in the Shadow. I found out in the end that the Sempere and Son in this book were the grandfather and father of Daniel Sempere in the Shadow. So The Angel’s Game is the prequel to The Shadow of the Wind. But both books can be read independently.

The feelings evoked by the scenes of Martin and Sempere Senior were so heartwarming, I almost cried.

The story was rich, and though it had a positive ending, I felt that the end is yet again another start, that this story isn’t over yet.

The Angel’s Game and The Shadows of the Wind are equally good in different ways. Shadow, for me, seemed more romantic and about unrequited love while Angel’s was more on religion, faith, and beliefs. Both books showcased Spain’s 1900s politics, lifestyle, and class standings which are all, very similar to my beloved country’s.

During the first half of the book, I have been writing all the quotes and beautiful lines. I had something to write from almost every other page, and I asked myself if I was copying the whole book into my notebook.

Here are my most favorite lines:

~ Everything is a tale, Martin. What we believe, what we know, what we remember, even what we dream. Everything is a story, a narrative, a sequence of events with characters communicating an emotional content.

~ Every work of art is aggressive, Isabella. And every artist’s life is a small war or a large one, beginning with oneself and one’s limitations. To achieve anything you must first have ambition and then talent, knowledge, and finally the opportunity.

~ Justice is an affectation of perspective, not a universal value.

~ Silence makes even idiots seem wise for a minute.

~ It is part of our nature to survive. Faith is an instinctive response to aspects of existence that we cannot explain by any other means – be it the moral void we perceive in the universe, the certainty of death, the mystery of the origin of things, the meaning of our own lives, or the absence of meaning.

~ Tell me what you boast of and I’ll tell you what you lack.

~ One is never whole conscious of the greed hidden in one’s heart until one hears the sweet sound of silver.

~ There is nothing in the path of life that we don’t already know before we started. Nothing important is learned, it is simply remembered.

~ Did you know what’s the best thing about broken hearts? They can only really break once. The rest are just scratches.

~ The whole world was a prison from which there was no escape.

~ The only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him. The person you think you see is only an empty character; truth is always hidden in fiction.


I want to thank Kamventuretime for suggesting BookDepository. I ordered the three Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and I waited for twenty-two days before I received my parcel. I was so scared that I might not receive my package, but there they are.


Overall, this was a very good read even though it didn’t let me sleep properly for days. And I could not end this post without giving credits to the translator of this book, Lucia Graves. I could not have enjoyed this novel without her beautiful English translation.

One response to “The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón”

  1. Awesome! Read these two books many years ago. I thought about the sepia-thing, too! Of course, I liked the first title more but it was nice to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

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