Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Sophomore

I have made no secret of absolutely LOVING Carlos Ruiz Zafon's first novel Shadow of the Wind. I wrote about it in a previous post. One of the highlights of my reading summer was the release of Zafon's second novel The Angel's Game. I bought it the day after it came out, in hardcover. I rarely buy hardcover.

I will confess that I was trying to temper my excitement as this is a second novel and just like in music, the sophomore effort can sometimes be a little disappointing. Especially when it has to live up to something that is as good as the first book.

So...I liked it. I didn't love it...but I quite enjoyed it. As with Shadow of the Wind, The Angel's Game takes place in Barcelona, although sometime earlier. Zafon once again does a brilliant job in describing the richness and beauty of Barcelona (one of my very favourite cities in the world). He also continues with a literary theme and we once again see the Cemetery of Forgotten Books where you can not only find a place to hide a book but also be chosen by a book. I love this idea.

Zafon is great at creating layers: suspense, romance, fantasy - without it getting too corny. He brings in some pretty fantastical elements in this book to be sure. I was completely enthralled with the first half of the book and very satisfied. However (and here is why I didn't really love it), as I headed into the second half of the book, I felt like he was a little caught up in some of the fantastical paranormal elements that he was trying to create and derailed the story a bit. This led to an ending that wasn't the best.

That being said though, it was a thoroughly enjoyable romp. I will definitely read whatever he writes next. He has a fan in me.

The Angel's Game
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Doubleday Canada