The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

15 07 2009
angels-game

Oh, how I wish I loved you more

Bring me a story I have not read before and, if I have read it, bring it to me so well written and narrated that I won’t even notice.-Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Angel’s Game

There’s a scene in the Pixar movie Ratatouille where Remy is talking about how different flavors interact and the animation shows these great little fireworks dancing around and exploding into amazing colors and shapes.  I love this – it isn’t even really a scene, I guess – this snippet of film.  Because that’s what my brain feels like when I read something absolutely magical.  Sometimes I read a sentence or a paragraph and I have to take a moment and close my eyes and wait until the explosions stop.  This happened so many times while reading The Angel’s Game that I should probably be worried about a brain tumor.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon wrote one of my favorite books of the last decade, The Shadow of the Wind.  I loved it, gave it to my sister who doesn’t read fiction and she loved it, then she gave it to my stepmother who loved it, she gave it to my father…who hasn’t read it yet because he doesn’t believe me when I tell him things are awesome (but then will come to me 6 months later and be all ‘Hey, El, have you heard of blah-bitty-blah? It’s so good!’ and I have a different sort of explosion in my brain).   The story is a Gothic mystery set in Barcelona in the early 1900s and revolves around books and their secrets.  It was heaven for me.

The Angel’s Game is a Gothic mystery set in Barcelona in the early 1900s…and revolves around books…and their secrets.  Hmmm.  So, Carlos Ruiz Zafon has a formula and he’s sticking to it.  Which would be awesome if this book was…better.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s packed with sentences that overload my brain with joy, but the story itself?  It just never really came together for me.  There were so many things thrown in there – love and betrayal and ghosts and a weird old house and illness and more love and more betrayal and strange dreams and horrible childhood and some more love and some more betrayal and religion and books and writing and murder (most foul!) and some more weird old houses and OMJEEZUS what the hell happened to the friggin’ plot?  And the ending?  Hooozy-bozy-ho…it just, I just, I don’t…well, it was an ending!  Because there were no more pages!  So it was obviously over!

What can I say?  I had high expectations.  I wanted more from this book.  And, as I should know from my own relationship with my parents, it isn’t always fair to push your hopes and dreams on someone or something else.  It’s just going to end in disappointment – and maybe a tetch of a drinking problem.  So, if you’ve never read anything by Senor Zafon, you must get The Shadow of the Wind.  And go ahead and read The Angel’s Game as well because the man can craft a sentence.  Just don’t expect too much.

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