From the Publisher
From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafon, author of the
international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind,
comes The Angel's Game - a dazzling new
page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature
and in love.
The whole of Barcelona stretched out at my feet and I
wanted to believe that when I opened those windows - my
new windows - each evening its streets would whisper
stories to me, secrets in my ear, that I could catch on paper and
narrate to whomever cared to listen…
In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young
man, David Martin, makes his living by writing sensationalist
novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he
has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights
spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his
dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked
room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at
the mysterious death of the previous owner.
Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones
as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David
receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli,
who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike
anything that has ever existed - a book with the power to change
hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps
more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a
connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround
Once again, Zafon takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen
in The Shadow of the Wind and creates a
breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance, and tragedy. Through a
dizzyingly constructed labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books,
passion, and friendship blend into a masterful story.
From the Jacket
"Very rarely are readers allowed to discover greatness on their
own, to get caught up in the story at a visceral level, immersed in
a fictional world, and eventually to emerge blinking wide-eyed into
the 'real' world, putting the book down, sated and energized,
surprised to find that they have read something, unknowingly, that
can hold its own with the classics…. [The Angel's
Game] is this sort of rarity, a book that is utterly new,
defiantly, nay, irresistibly readable, yet possessing the sense of
depth and significance one usually finds only in the vaunted,
self-consciously 'great' novels, past and present…. It belongs to
no genre, while seeming to ruthlessly pilfer from many of them.
It's part mystery, part ghost story, part bildungsroman, part
romance, part tragedy, part blood-soaked noir…. It constantly
surprises, at a narrative level, and provides the sort of
breakneck, can't-put-it-down reading experience that one usually
finds only in genre writing."
- The Globe and Mail
"A hypnotically chilling gothic thriller…. Tightly wound in an aura
of mystery…. The great strength of Zafón's writing, as with Poe or
Roland Topor … is in his ability to weave a mood of foreboding
around his plot…. A book that is so beautifully constructed and,
- The Gazette (Montreal)
"In The Angel's Game, as in his previous novel,
The Shadow of the Wind, [Zafón] spins a
fantastically elaborate plot from a slender, whimsical idea. Here
it's the notion that a writer might, on a bad day, succumb to a
sense of futility about the value of his calling, might begin to
believe that the act of telling a story isn't just vain, but
positively diabolical…. The pleasures of The Angel's
Game are guilty ones. As he did in The Shadow of
the Wind, Ruiz Zafón provides, along with sex and death, a
nice slide show of old Barcelona, a handful of affectionate riffs
on favorite books (among them that other, very different
mysterious-benefactor tale Great Expectations) and
a pervasive sense of the childish joy of credulity - of
surrendering to a story and letting it take you where it will,
whatever the consequences."
- The New York Times
"Zafón's novel is detailed and vivid, and David's narration is
charming and funny, but suspect. Villain or victim, he is the hero
of and the guide to this dark labyrinth that, by masterful design,
remains thrilling and bewildering."
- Publishers Weekly
"[A] gothic tale about the magic of books and the darkest
corners of the human soul."
- The Independent (Ireland)
"Zafón thrillingly tiptoes along the fine line between paranormal
events and psychological delusion that modern pioneers of the
uncanny … had trod."
- The Independent
"Scintillating… A heady brew of detective thriller, supernatural
horror tale, magical realist fable and heartbreaking love story. It
explores life, death, religious belief and - more than anything -
the lonely, bitter-sweet self-torture that it is to be a writer,
and the central role of books, especially fiction, in our
understanding of the human condition."
- Daily Mail
"The breeze from Charles Dickens and his Great
Expectations blows through this novel from the start….
Zafón constantly invites us to see Barcelona, his 'city of the
damned,' from above. He takes us into sinful corners, indulging
fantasies that are erotic, magical or violent. In the end Zafón is
the tempter. Many will fall for his vigorous and exhaustingly
- The Guardian (UK)
"Often novelist heroes grate, but The Angel's Game
makes the most of the choice, playfully invoking a range of
authorial gripes [and] taking a gleeful dig at the capriciousness
- Lionel Shriver, The Daily Telegraph
"If you've been doubting Carlos Ruiz Zafón's ability to produce an
entire quartet of books about books, don't. It's my guess that he
has acres upon acres of tales still to tell."
- Irish Times
"Carlos Ruiz Zafón writes like an angel in The Angel's
- USA Today
"A masterfully written love affair with books and words as well as
an obsessive tribute to passionate love…. Eerie, gothic … A
multi-layered confection that combines undying love, magical
realism, meditations on religion, the importance of books and a
love affair with the vibrant city of Barcelona. Zafón hits the
reset button on what it means to be a great writer. His visionary
storytelling prowess is a genre unto itself."
- USA Today
"Zafón has a gift for setting the writing life … against a tapestry
of political events…. It is … a reader's considerable pleasure to
roam the streets of Barcelona once again and hear their whispered
- New Orleans Books News and Reviews
"You are in exceptionally good hands the whole way. Zafón can write
up a storm. In fact, he can write up all sorts of storms: rain,
ice, fire. It's hard, really, to find anything missing from his
arsenal: zesty atmosphere, crackling dialogue, arresting
- The Washington Post
"Zafón is a master of the atmospheric…. Its faith in the power of
fiction is endearing, and addictive."
- Financial Times
"Zafón seals the deal with a wickedly clever tale that turns
readers into accomplices of his obsession with books, the quixotic
characters who pen and peddle them and mystical Barcelona…. Vivid …
The city makes the writer, and Zafón once more creates a tale - a
Harry Potter for grown-ups, a mammoth parable, and operative
morality play - worthy of Barcelona."
- Miami Herald
"In Zafón's imagination, the city, where fading grandeur coexists
with Gaudi's strange and surreal constructions, takes on as much
character and menace as Dickens' London.… Zafón's fascination with
the nature of faith and storytelling … can't help but engage anyone
who believes that life can be shaped by books…. The Angel's
Game draws with relish on all the conventions beloved of
Wilkie Collins, Dickens and even the penny dreadfuls that David
despises, then weaves them into something entirely original and
surprisingly moving that holds the reader's expectation until the
- The Observer
"Pulpy, melodramatic and compulsively readable."
"Moody, seductive … Zafón provides, along with sex and death, a
nice slide show of old Barcelona, a handful of affectionate riffs
on favourite books - and a pervasive sense of the childish joy of
credulity - of surrendering to a story and letting it take you
where it will."
- The Times
"Zafón is expert at introducing twists to his story; his dialogue
sparkles; and he knows how to string together emotional and
- Times Literary Supplement
"It's safe to say The Angel's Game won't be
forgotten anytime soon."
- The Washington Post Book World
"If you're waiting for Dan Brown's The Lost
Symbol, then Zafón offers the best way to bide your time
until its release. He offers not only plenty of plot intricacies
and mystery but also a lyrical, melancholic style of writing.
The Angel's Game is a strange creature, a literary
centaur in which a meditation on the craft of writing is combined
with a thriller about David Martin, a master of pulp and Grand
- Los Angeles Times
"The Angel's Game will keep you glued to your
deck chair. It may give you nightmares, but if this book was meant
to be a testament to how a book can engage the imagination like
nothing else, Zafón's mission can be truly called
- Seattle Times
"Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafón has followed up his
masterly debut, The Shadow Of The Wind, with a
work of no less brilliance. The setting is Barcelona in the
Twenties, the main character a writer of crime novels whose own
life takes a spooky turn. There are nods in the direction of
Dickens, Dumas and Edgar Allan Poe; but don't get the idea that
this is one of those bookish, dry-as-dust yarns fit only for
academics. It has wit, style, great sex and a hugely entertaining
- The Mail on Sunday (UK)
About the Author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of The Shadow of the
Wind and other novels. After Cervantes, he is the most
widely read Spanish author of all time. His work has been
translated into more than forty languages and published around the
world, gathering numerous international prizes and reaching
millions of readers. He divides his time between Barcelona and Los
1. The novel begins with David''s recollection of the first time
he tasted "the sweet poison of vanity" by writing for a living. How
much of his career is fueled by vanity versus poverty? Why was it
so difficult for him to heed Cristina''s warnings about selling out
to greedy publishers?
2. Like Carlos Ruiz Zafón''s previous novel, The
Angel''s Game is written in the first person. What does
David reveal about his view of the world as he tells us his story?
How might the novel have unfolded if it had been told from Andreas
Corelli''s point of view?
3. Sempere influenced David''s life by giving him a copy of
Great Expectations. Later returned to him
by Corelli, the book still bore the bloody fingerprints of David''s
father. How did David''s life resemble a Dickens novel? How was he
affected by his parents'' history? How did books and booksellers
save him? What is the most memorable book you received as a
4. Discuss the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, described especially
vividly in chapter 20 (act one). What do the contents of the
cemetery say about which books have long lives, and which ones are
overlooked? What is required to honor the soul of a book, applying
Sempere''s belief that a book absorbs the soul of its author and
5. What is the common thread in each of Corelli''s tactics for
luring David? How did you interpret his "dream" of Chloé? What made
David a vulnerable target?
6. What aspects of his identity does David have to leave behind
when he becomes Ignatius B. Samson, author of City of the
Damned (chapter 8, act one)? What does
The Steps of Heaven say about who he
wants to be and who Irene Sabino became?
7. How does Pedro Vidal justify his exploitation of David,
stealing the woman he loves and capitalizing on David''s prowess as
a writer? How did your opinion of Vidal shift throughout the novel?
Does he redeem himself in chapter 22 (act three)? Describe someone
whom you idolized early in your career who later proved to be
8. In chapter 24 (act one), Corelli reveals his plan to David,
describing religion as "a moral code that is expressed through
legends, myths or any type of literary device." Does this
definition match your experience with religion? What do Lux
Aeterna and Corelli''s project indicate about faith and the
9. How did you react to the revelations about Ricardo Salvador
at the end of chapter 14 (act three)? What had your theories been
about Corelli''s network?
10. Explore the novel''s title. Ultimately, who are the angels
in David''s world? What are the rules of Corelli''s game? Who are
11. Discuss Barcelona, especially the traces of renowned
architect Antoni Gaudí, as if the city were a character in the
novel. How do the tower house in Calle Flassaders (first described
in chapter 8, act one) and Vidal''s Villa Helius, along with the
cathedrals, cemeteries, Las Ramblas, and other locales, set the
tone for The Angel''s Game?
12. What is the effect of reading a novel about a novelist? What
truths about the intersection of art and commerce are reflected in
the story of Barrido & Escobillas and in their subsequent
demise at the hands of an even more controlling publisher?
13. If you had been Inspector Victor Grandes, would you have
believed David''s story in chapters 18 and 19 (act three)?
14. How did you interpret the novel''s closing scene,
particularly the presence of Cristina? Throughout the novel, how
did David reconcile the ideal of Cristina with the realities of
15. What is special about the bond between David and Isabella?
What do they teach each other about love? If you have read
The Shadow of the Wind, discuss your
reactions to Daniel''s heritage, revealed in the epilogue.