The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book Review (sort of)

The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, copyright 2008.

Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Pages: 441

Source: Lent to me by a friend

Reason for Reading: Exploring the reading choices of friends.

It has been barely a month since my last DNF, Parrot and Olivier in America, and yet, here I sit with another spectacular failure in my hands. The last few couple of weeks have not been good for me reading wise. A couple of weeks ago I decided that, after 3 hours, I couldn’t go any farther with Helen Dunmore’s The Siege on Audiobook. The following weekend we were in Budapest for three days and I didn’t get a single page read. When we got back, I struggled with The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Yesterday, I gave up on the book. 😦

David Martin is a struggling writer in Barcelona in the 1920s. Tragedy continually befell David as a young man and now, as an adult, he finds himself perpetually indebted to his mentor Senor Vidal. Vidal helps Martin acquire two jobs, one writing mysteries for a Barcelona paper and the other writing penny novels for a rather dubious publisher. David receives a strange note one evening from Andreas Corelli, an admirer of his work, who treats him to a night of exquisite pleasure at a local burlesque house. Several nights after his experience there, David returns to the brothel only to find it abandoned. After some detective work, he discovers that the business has been closed since a fire destroyed half the building and killed several of its employees several years ago…some of whom David is certain he met on his visit. Was it a dream, or was he actually there? Martin goes on with his writing and his health begins to deteriorate. Further encounters with Senor Corelli give him the chance he has been looking for to escape from the tentacles of his current employer. It is only after David accepts a deal to write for Senor Corelli that he discovers, the publishing house the man claims to own in Paris has long been out of business and Corelli has been dead for years. Worse yet, Martin soon discovers that he is not the first person to be approached to write for Senor Corelli since his apparent death.

It sounds like a terribly interesting mystery doesn’t it? Not enough I guess! I particularly did not like Zafon’s use of supernatural elements. I am not opposed to there use in general, but I think Zafon used them too blatantly for my taste. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is the trouble I am having recounting what occurred in the 248 pages I actually read. Even now, I am overcome by a great sense of indifference towards the story and its characters. As I struggled through, I kept wondering why it wasn’t holding my attention. I couldn’t get past this strange feeling that I was reading John Grisham. I don’t mean to slander Grisham in any way, he writes some fabulous stories, but his characters engender absolutely no emotion. I found Zafon to be much the same; the story is the story and nothing but the story. There is nothing the slightest bit literary contained in its pages. To Zafon’s credit, the story was fast paced and anything but boring, but after nearly 250 pages I found that I had absolutely no interest in what was going to happen to the characters. I resigned myself to another failure. When I stopped reading, my last though was how on earth the author could require over 440 pages to tell the story.

Usually, when I start thinking about putting a book down for good I feel some pangs of guilt. I have invested emotion in the book and don’t want to disconnect myself from the characters earlier than I am supposed to. With The Angel’s Game, that didn’t happen. I was content giving it up, save for the fact that it was leant to me by a friend here in Split. I like reading books recommended to me by friends and I am going to find it painful admitting to this particular friend that her reading choice was not my cup of tea.

I had heard wonderful things about Carlos Ruiz Zafon and am disappointed I didn’t enjoy this book. Perhaps this just wasn’t the right book to introduce myself to Zafon’s work. As it stands right now, I don’t think I will be seeking out any of his other works in the near future.


Check out some of these far better reviews:


Devourer of Books

Medieval Bookworm

A Bookworm’s World


About Robbie

Hi there, my name is Robbie Burns (no,really, that’s my name…hold the haggis jokes please) and I would like to welcome you to the Pink Sheep Cafe. I started this blog as a means of discussing books and all things literary in light of my perpetual isolation. At the time I began writing, I was living in Split, Croatia. There wasn’t much here in the way of English book clubs and I couldn’t work, so I badly needed something to help me bide my time. My partner and I have since left Croatia and returned to Canada to live in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. When we first moved back here, my blog writing sort of fell by the wayside, but now I seem to be back on track. I try to read and review a little bit of everything here; I think everyone can find something to their liking here. I find myself tending more towards more literary reads these days, but I also enjoy a lot of YA and children’s fiction. One of my ongoing goals is to work my way through all of the Nobel Laureates. My two most favorite authors are Timothy Findley and Halldor Laxness.
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9 Responses to The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book Review (sort of)

  1. I didn’t finish Shadow of the Wind so didn’t even attempt this one. It sounds as though this is just another case of our literary tastes matching.

    • Robbie says:

      You know it’s funny Jackie, I thought for some reason you had previously left a comment on my blog stating that you loved Angel’s game, so I was expecting to love it. Obviously I was mistaken, because when I was writing my review I went and looked on your blog for a review and couldn’t find anything. Then I was checking out Wendy’s review and saw she didn’t finish this one either. Three peas in a pod I guess 😉

  2. amymckie says:

    Wow, sorry to hear this didn’t do it for you – and that you’ve been having such bad luck with your reading lately!! Now I can’t decide if I still want to read this or not 🙂

  3. Julie says:

    I love your reviews and I wish I were as good as putting my feelings about a book into writing.

  4. Julie says:

    Just wondering, how do you keep track of the books you read? Do you use a web program like goodreads? Do you catalogue them yourself?

    • Robbie says:

      Awww…thanks Julie!! I absolutely love writing! As for the cataloging, I have considered using Goodreads, but I am too lazy to invest the time to figure it all out. When I started blogging, I started to keep track of my reads in an excel spreadsheet, so that way I can keep track of little tidbits of info that other programs might not let me.

  5. Pingback: W…W…W…Wednesdays – September 29, 2010 | Pink Sheep Cafe

  6. I loved Shadow of the Wind – couldn’t put it down, but didn’t get on very well with this one. It was okay, I guess, but when you’re starting a book with high expectations, you don’t want to settle for just “okay,” right?

  7. Jessica says:

    I quite liked Shadow of the Wind but really struggled through this one. There was just so much I didnt get and some of it was just plain silly. I did manage to finish it but it wasnt worth it.

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