The Angel’s Game – huh?


Never did I think I would be a fan of Spanish Gothic (-ish) fiction, but I just finished The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and I think I’m hooked. Cobweb covered tower houses, graffiti coated mausoleums, bullet stopping books, mysterious locked rooms–this book has it all.

Still, I’m a little confused. Not to give it all away (and please stop reading if you don’t want me to spoil it for you), but I was pretty sure all along that the narrator had unwittingly made a deal with the devil (to riff on Ghostbusters, if someone asks you to write them a new religion, say “no.”). Then it came out that the former resident of the narrator’s Munsters-esque home had apparently also made a deal with the devil. Then, all of the sudden, any visit from the narrator became a kiss of death for whomever he’d just seen, as if, somehow, he was an angel of death working for the devil (or the Spanish version of Corleone family hit man of choice Luca Brasi–plus at least one character ends up sleeping with the fishes, if you know what I mean, so there you go). There’s sacrifice of the pure of heart, admiring views from high places, and even a line like this–“I started working on the seventh day.” With all of those allusions, could I be wrong?

Still, I’m not sure. So again, what is probably obvious to the rest of the reading world is something that I’m trying to work out on my own–not unlike English class back in high school, when the teacher would ask something like, “What is the theme of this novel?” and I’d grope in the silence looking for something earth-shattering insight that was inevitably bankrupt and laughable, or at least didn’t at all resemble what the teacher had written down on her handy mental answer card.

Boy, did I hate high school English. It ruined me for college where I took not one single English class. So there.

Back to Zafon. The jacket of the book says that it’s a prequel to Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind–a book which I read a couple of years ago. I wanted to double-check the connections (and nab some reading material for the Thanksgiving weekend) so I went down to the library’s fiction section. I looked under “ZAF.” No book. I looked under “RUI.” No book. I asked the librarian, who, for some bizarro reason, looked under neither “Z” nor “R” but under “S” (?!?!!). No book. So now, I have The Shadow of the Wind on hold and have no hope of receiving it in time for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Ironically, both Zafon books feature a fictional place called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Has the librarian looked there, I wonder? Fat chance.

I say all this to say, I’m looking for a book to read this weekend. Any suggestions?

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4 Comments

  1. Monica said,

    November 25, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I just finished Born Round, the Secret History of a Full Time Eater by Frank Bruni and really enjoyed it. The part in the beginning describing all the fuss that was made with Thanksgiving in the Bruni household was terrific and reminded me a little of my own family’s Thanksgiving preparations. It won’t be in the library though since I just loaned it to my Dad. I do know that it is at Altantic Books though since that is where I first saw it.

  2. scheirmad said,

    November 26, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Great recommendation!! How timely!! I’ve heard interviews about the book with Bruni. I’ll probably venture out and pick it up this weekend!

  3. Helen said,

    January 4, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I was very confused when I read this book but for some reason I couldn’t put it down ! I enjoyed it but I really didn’t get it. I’d like to read it again and see if I can understand it better. I would like to read Born Round. You know how I love memoirs! They are always easy to understand too! Maybe it could be a book club selection but I don’t believe its out in paperback yet.

    • scheirmad said,

      January 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm

      You know what’s interesting too, Helen–when I re-read the Shadow of the Wind after reading this one I liked that a whole lot better than the first time around. Either way, I’m glad you and I both really enjoyed it (plus the hardback looks like a great decor accessory!).

      Born Round is still on my list too. But I couldn’t manage it during the holidays when every day’s a party and there’s food food food. Maybe that would have been the best time!

      I’m afraid I own but have not read the next selection for book club. I’m in the middle of Middlesex by Jeffrey (?!) Eugenides about a genetically ambiguous Greek person and his/her interesting family background. Fiction, but super lively and well written. Sorry we’ll miss you on Friday!


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