Ever since the moment I first finished Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind I was left wanting for more of his beautiful Barcelona and never have I wanted to visit a time and place as much. Now with The Angel's Game we finally get another look. The translation is impeccable and beautiful while never feeling overly verbose as some translations are wont to do. The Angel's Game is one to savour. I found myself re-reading whole chapters again and again as I was entranced by not only the story but the sumptuous language. Zafon has once again proven he is one of if not the brightest voices in literature today. The Angel's Game has easily become my favorite book of the year and it will be tough to knock it from that perch. However, do not expect Angel and Shadow to be similar. The Angel's Game is a much darker and much more melancholy Faustian tale with stronger supernatural themes running throughout. The themes of love taken away, unreciprocated love, and filling of voids are still are here along with memorable characters, dialogue, and love of the written word. Quite a few characters from TSOTW show up in younger forms, but I won't ruin it by telling who. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books plays a central and even more important role as well. We are also gifted with a little more history of the Cemetery, which I have been salivating for since the opening pages of TSOTW.
Zafon has truly conceived a rich mosaic city where every character and the city itself has a heart and lost soul all its own. With the main character, David Martin, he managed to create someone with a deep sardonic humor and no matter their foibles you want to see him somehow best his creepy publisher Andreas. The discussions between Andreas and David are something out of a good philosophy debate. Zafon takes the no happy ends to an entirely different realm with this as he twists and turns the written word to his incredible will. The biggest let down was the character of Cristina who needed a few more scenes earlier on to grab me a bit more, maybe even in their childhood. In the end I felt she was very short shifted. There are also a few plot lines that aren't answered very well or at all that may nag some, but it was done with the intent of perpetuating the mysterious and any explanation may have ruined the narrative.
The ending was quite unexpected as it leaves you more perplexed than anything else, which will probably turn a few readers off, but you are left with a sense of wonder that will stay with you. I give The Angel's Game 9.75 out of 10 Hats. This is a book no one should miss. The Angel's Game can be thoroughly enjoyed without have read The Shadow of the Wind, but I highly recommend you read Shadow first.