You’ve probably seen this name before. Carlos Ruiz Zafon hit it big in the English speaking world when his first book in ‘The Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ series, ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ was translated. He is a native to Barcelona, Spain, which is where the setting for his adult series takes place.
I fell in love with his writing after reading ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ back in 2011. The page count runs in the five hundreds, but not once do you feel like the story is too long. In this mystery, we follow Daniel Sempere in a post-war Barcelona as he tries to uncover who is burning all the books written by Julian Carax. He fell in love with one of Carax’s books after his father introduced him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a hidden treasure trove of all types of tomes. As he grows from a love struck boy to a wise but determined young man, Daniel finds himself entwined in the enigmatic life Carax lived, as well as watches as his own life starts to shape in similar ways to Julian’s.
Zafon kills it with his narrative and fleshed out heroes and villains. It was hard to believe he could get any better, but then I read ‘The Angel’s Game’.
‘The Angel’s Game’ is a prequel to ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, taking place in the 1920s and 30s Barcelona. This time we are introduced to David Martin, a pulp writer with the world’s worst luck. He can never tell if it was the cards he was dealt, or how he played them. If anyone can sympathize with this character, it is an aspiring writer. David Martin definitely has the demons of a tortured writer.
He is approached one day by a mysterious figure who would like him to write a book. The story swirls around the novel, Martin’s own written work, and the girl he knows he can never have. He’s cracking, but how bad is the monster hiding beneath the skin?
Without hesitation, I can tell you that ‘The Angel’s Game’ is my second favorite novel of all time. David Martin’s personality of a lone wolf desperately seeking recognition for the brilliant work he does mixed with a wide violet streak is something I truly admire in the character. I could almost say it is a contender for the number one slot if I hadn’t just re-read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and fell in love all over again.
In the third book of the series, ‘Prisoner of Heaven’, we find out more details and secrets that link Daniel Sempere’s and David Martin’s lives. Although not as long as the previous two books, ‘Prisoner of Heaven’ has the same form of storytelling and characterization we’ve come to love.
The story centers around events that happened while Fermin Romero de Torres, a family friend of the Sempere’s and character in the first book, was locked away in prison twenty years earlier. A small storyline connecting past and present also snakes its way throughout, but the important, and shocking look into Fermin’s past hold the important details. For, you see, Fermin’s cell just happened to be across from a schizophrenic named David Martin!!!!
You must read to find out the wild ass details. I cannot wait for Zafon’s fourth book in the series. These are the perfect mystery/thrillers for readers across the board, although, especially for struggling writers. You will get lost in the world of early twentieth century Barcelona, and not want to come back.