David Martin is an aspiring writer of suspenseful stories in early twentieth century Barcelona. When opportunities to write professionally present themselves, he quickly seizes them, the desire to be published overriding everything, including his common sense. With his earnings, Martin moves into a tower house, abandoned for decades, but with the sentimental value of a place he’s passed every day on his way to success. But when Martin receives an unusual offer and begins to learn more about his strange abode, he realizes that he is playing a far deeper game than he’d ever imagined.
My favorite aspect of Zafon’s writing is the atmosphere he evokes with his works. This was amazingly well done in The Shadow of the Wind, which I read before I began blogging, and I had high hopes here as well. Zafon did not let me down. Almost immediately, he draws us into a world of half-truths in the depths of Barcelona. Impending tragedy always seems to hang over Martin, right from the beginning, and it’s as though the book is clogged with dark, rainy nights and suspenseful midnight meetings. It’s hard to describe, but it’s easy to live in this world. Even Martin’s apartment is compelling and virtually a living part of the mystery.
When not writing, Martin is also obsessed with his love, Cristina, even though it takes years before she recognizes him. This love story goes in a very peculiar direction but adds to the eerie feel of the work. Throughout, we’re uncertain as to whether Martin’s experiences are real or imaginary, particularly as the story gets crazy. By the halfway point, I was surprised by how tense the story was getting; I found myself reading a thriller! The literary touch and the atmosphere, plus the added uncertainty about Martin’s mental state, are really what make this book something special. Towards the end of the book, the plot starts to unravel to some extent, but I was still curious about it.
The Shadow of the Wind was a book for readers. The Angel’s Game is less so; I think it’s much closer to a book for writers, but since I’m not really one, it didn’t draw me in quite the same way. So I can’t say I really liked it more but I definitely enjoyed reading it. I wanted to know what happened next. The ending didn’t answer all of my questions, but that rarely happens. I would recommend this, especially if you enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind.