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The Labyrinth Of The Spirits: From the bestselling author of The Shadow of the Wind Tapa blanda – 13 junio 2019
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THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'Magnificent: a dizzying tale of drama, intrigue and passion' MAIL ON SUNDAY
As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish Franco regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.
'This is a novel to lose oneself in, and it promotes the sort of reading experience we remember from childhood - of complete absorption into a fantasy world' IRISH TIMES
Descripción del producto
Zafón is a master storyteller, combining the postmodern and the traditional in an enchanting hymn to literature... Magnificent: a dizzying tale of drama, intrigue and passion― Mail on Sunday
A colossal, genre-crossing achievement... it is to be hoped that Zafon's next books deal as seriously and enjoyable with the present and future of Barcelona. ― Guardian
Moving and engaging. This is a novel to lose oneself in, and it promotes the sort of reading experience we remember from childhood - of complete absorption into a fantasy world ― Irish Times
Rich, ambitious storytelling. ― Sunday Times
Sprawling, seductive and hugely atmospheric ― Sunday Express
Neither too geeky nor too highbrow, Zafon's genre-mashing novels provide a high-definition, alternative account of Spain's turbulent 20th-century history, with added Hollywood blockbuster thrills. I was hooked. ― Daily Mail
This is a suspenseful story of loss, betrayal and redemption. ― Independent
By the author of the brilliant Shadow of the Wind, this is a good long read to relish on chilly winter evenings. ― Saga
Detalles del producto
- Editorial : Orion Group Ltd; N.º 1 edición (13 junio 2019)
- Idioma : Inglés
- Tapa blanda : 432 páginas
- ISBN-10 : 1474606210
- ISBN-13 : 978-1474606219
- Peso del producto : 598 g
- Dimensiones : 12.8 x 5.2 x 19.6 cm
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº54 en Antigüedades y coleccionables (Libros)
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I read the first two novels of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books series years back, in Spanish. I have recommended The Shadow of the Wind to anybody who would bother to listen to me (probably multiple times, sorry) and was enthralled by the complex tale of creation and mental unravelling span by The Angel’s Game. In the maelstrom of the last few years, somehow I lost track of the series and missed the publication of The Prisoner of Heaven (although I have been trying to locate a copy since I started reading this volume), but when I saw the last novel in the series was being published in English and offered on NetGalley, I knew it was my chance to catch up. As I also do translations and had read two of the novels in their original Spanish version, I had the added interest of scrutinising what the translation into English would look like. Well, I must say I thought it was superb, in case I forget to mention it later. Lucia Graves manages to capture the style of the author, the complexity and beauty of his language, and translates the local peculiarities of the dialogue, helping readers feel the joy and the intoxicating and magical experience of reading the original. Hats off!
If you’ve read up to this point, you’ll likely have guessed that I loved this novel. To get it out of the way, I’ll clarify that I think it can be read by itself, or as a starting point to a reader’s visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and although perhaps somebody who starts by reading this book will feel s/he knows already the whole story, I suspect they’ll feel curious and intrigued and will want to learn the full details of the stories that come to fruition here (this is my case as well). Here, the author of the story inside the book, Julián, (yes, the story is full of books and writers) explains how the series works better than I can:
The way I dreamed of it, the narrative would be divided into four interconnected volumes that would work like entrance doors into a labyrinth of stories. As the reader advanced into its pages, he would feel that the story was piecing itself together like a game of Russian dolls in which each plot and each character led to the next, and that, in turn, to yet another, and so on and so forth. The saga would contain villains and heroes, and a thousand tunnels through which the reader would be able to explore a kaleidoscopic plot resembling that mirage of perspectives I’d discovered with my father in the heart of the Cemetery of the Forgotten Books.
This is a long novel, and a complex one, although not one difficult to read or follow (I don’t think). As the quoted paragraph says, there are many stories here, and many memorable characters, some dead, some alive, and some… (among them, Alicia Gris, femme-fatale, spy, little girl, seductress, avenging angel, long-suffering survivor of a terrible war; Daniel Sampere, bookshop owner extraordinaire searching for answers; Fermín Romero de Torres, whimsical, fun, full of life and common-sense, witty, heroic, down-to-earth; Julián Sempere, the stand-in for the author and heir to a long tradition; Isabella, a mysterious figure much of the action revolves around; authors David Martín, Julian Carax, Víctor Mataix; the fabulous Vargas, a hard-working an old-fashioned honest policeman with some secrets of his own; the complex Leandro; the horrifying Hendaya; the intriguing Rovira…). The story moves back and forth in time, from the time of the Civil War in Spain (1938) to its aftermath during the Franco regime, and into 1992. We visit Madrid, Paris —however briefly— although the main setting, and the main character, is Barcelona, in all its glory and horror.
In the darkest corner of her heart, Barcelona, mother of labyrinths, holds of mesh of narrow streets knotted together to form a reef of present and future ruins.
I kept thinking what genre one would fit this book into. Amazon has it listed in the categories of literary fiction, historical fiction, and mysteries. All true, I guess. There are secrets, mysteries, action, revenge, intrigues, crimes, murders, torture… The novel reminds me, in some ways, of the big adventures and narratives of old, novels by Victor Hugo (whose pen, possibly?, makes an appearance in the novel), Jules Verne, the Dumas (father and son), with its sprawling narrative, its wondrous descriptions of people and events, its historical background (the Spanish Civil War and the postwar years, accurately reflected through a fantasy lens), and even its gothic setting (we have mysterious mansions, dungeons, cells, castles, underground passages, true labyrinths…). This book bears homage to literature, to books, to authors, to the power of imagination, and to the magic of reading.
The book talks about books and writing and contains plenty of advice on writing, some of it contradictory, and there are many different types of writers contained in its pages. It is metafictional at its best, and I was not surprised when I read that the author also composes music. There are variations on a theme in evidence (stories are told and retold: sometimes different versions, sometimes from different perspectives, and in different formats). There is plenty of showing, there is telling from direct witnesses, or third-hand, there are documents that bring us missing pieces from the pens of those who are no longer able to tell their own stories, and everybody gets a chance to tell his or her own story, be it in the first person or the third, be it directly or through a narrator. The author has explained that he writes his novels in a similar way to how movies are conceived and designed, and that is evident when one reads the story, as it is impossible not to visualise it. Carlos Ruíz Zafón professes his admiration for Orson Welles and that comes across loud and clear in this book. But, however much he loves movies, he believes books can conjure up worlds that no filmmaker would be able to bring to life, and that is his stated reason for not selling the rights for the film adaptation of the series. Part of me would like to watch it, but I am convinced I’d be disappointed, so incredible is the world the author has built.
I have mentioned the style of writing when I talked about the translation and I have shared some quotes. I kept highlighting and highlighting text while I was reading it and I found it very difficult to select some to share, but I hope the few fragments I have included will pique your curiosity and make you check a sample if you are not sure if you would like it (you would!). One of the tips on writing contained in the book highlights the importance of the way the story is written, above and beyond the plot, but in this case, the two mix perfectly.
I have mentioned some of the themes, the historical background, and the mystery elements included in the story, with some gore and violent scenes, but there are plenty of magical, lighter, and funny moments as well, and I wanted to share a couple of sentences from Isabella’s notebook that I particularly enjoyed, to illustrate the sense of humour (sometimes a bit dark) also present:
We were three sisters, but my father used to say he had two daughters and one mule.
I didn’t like playing with the other girls: my specialty was decapitating dolls with a catapult.
I’m not sure what else I can tell you to try and convince you to read this book. I am from Barcelona and love the city, even if some of the places mentioned in the novel no longer exist (or not in their original form). You could use the book as a guide for a visit (and I know there were tours visiting some of the streets and settings of The Shadow of the Wind), or you could lose yourself in the labyrinth of your imagination. You could imagine the movie, cast the characters, or put yourself in their place (I’d happily be Alicia Gris, pain and all). If you need to live some adventures and take a break from your life, go on, enter the labyrinth and visit the cemetery of the forgotten books. You might never want to find the way out. I am rearing for another visit soon.
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The Labyrinth of the Spirits is the fourth and final book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series, and it’s a very strong ending to the intertwined stories of literary intrigue and complex characters. I don’t want to give away any of the plot - I didn’t know much going into it, and I’m glad, because this story had more layers than an onion, and it was a magical experience to be able to peel them away one by one. All of the characters from previous books feature in the story - Daniel, Bea, little Julian, old Sempere, Isaac, many of their neighbours from Shadow, Carax, and of course the absolutely wonderful Fermin Romero de Torres, who has to be one of the funniest and warmest characters ever created. I would have liked a little more Daniel and Bea if I'm honest. There are also new characters, led by the tough and enigmatic Alicia Gris, a kind of Lisbeth Salander of times gone by.
It’s a long and complex story set against the dark backdrop of Franco’s Spain. The writing, translated as beautifully as ever by Lucia Graves, is sumptuous and delicious to read (aside from a couple of clunky bits, which I forgive). This book comes a close second to Shadow and I will probably need to read it again.
I’m feeling a little emotional that it’s all over. Might have to go and read Shadow for a ninth time...
The interweaving threads of the story are complex. We begin with the heroine of much of the book, Alicia, being rescued by the inimitable Fermin during a bombing raid, in which she is permanently wounded in the side, carrying her pain wherever she goes thereafter. We meet her again as an adult working during the Franco regime for the political police as an agent, one of the best; but she's had enough and wants out, once she's dealt with a final case. That involves the disappearance of a Government minister, Valls. During her quest to locate Valls she teams up with an incorruptible colleague; she gradually discovers that she's being set up by her own bosses, who turn out to be evil incarnate. It has to be said that the level of cold-blooded violence, involving the extremes of man's inhumanity to man, is deep in this book - no comfort read here! Be prepared for graphic descriptions of torture, murder, suffering.
Alicia is a highly intelligent and resourceful, if enigmatic, agent: it's good to see a woman taking centre stage in this darkly machismo world.
Once she tracks down Valls and uncovers a history of the abuse of children and their families at the highest level of government; once she discovers how Daniel's mother Isabella was murdered; once she dispatches her enemies with cold-blooded ruthlessness, she escapes herself, about two-thirds of the way through the book. There are cliffhangers galore in these pages, surprise after surprise, all brilliantly controlled and written: a visceral thriller. From then on, the focus shifts to Daniel, his quest to find the truth about his family, his relationship with his son Julian. It is Julian who winds up the novel in an interesting episode of meta-fiction that includes the mysterious Julian Carax, co-author, it seems, of the present quartet.
The translation flows like a dream. The whole enterprise is a significant and remarkable, not to say unique, achievement. The kind of book that draws you into it world - dark, funny, tender, mysterious - and never lets you go.
Don't even consider it, dear reader.
Buy it. It changed my world. Odds are it'll change tours.
The book is overly long (twice the length of Shadow and Angel's Game, and three times the length of Prisoner of Heaven) and it is so slow paced that it is at times a chore to read. There are a number of different plot lines, some of which don't really go anywhere, and three villains who are never developed at all - the likes of Valls and Fumero in previous books were fun to hate while the antagonists in this one are just kind of... there to act menacing/insane for no real reason. The main plot of the missing person is mostly dropped for the last half of the book meaning there is no central focus to drive the story forward and it ends up meandering around creating weird relationships between characters and wrapping up the numerous threads in unsatisfying and sometimes unbelievable ways.
The story jumps around between different viewpoints with little consistency, but the bulk of the book is told from the perspective of Alicia who I found to be rather dull and repetitive. She also isn't developed very well, even though throughout the book she probably had more pages than expertly developed Daniel, David and Fermin had in previous titles, and I found myself not caring what happened tk her and feeling baffled that the other characters cared so much about her fate.
The final 50 pages are a sort of bizarre and lengthy epilogue which tries to tie up the entire series and left me with a sour taste, partly because it was bad and partly because it makes it seem as though this may be the last time we see this world and these characters, and it feels sad to leave it on such a low.
I was really excited to see that Carlos Ruiz Zafón had written another book in this series, so much so I bought a signed copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits last year. As soon as my paperback copy landed on my doormat about two weeks ago I knew I had to read this book straight away. It is not a light read at just over eight hundred pages long, and certainly not a book you can speed read, Calos Ruiz Zafón is one of those authors who doesn’t waste one sentence, word or punctuation mark. The plot is fairly complex, with a lot of characters and at first you really have to concentrate to get the feel of the book. I took me a couple of hundred pages to really find my feet and from then on I was completely engrossed by this amazing book. It is hard to put this book under any one genre heading, there is historical fiction, thriller, crime, mystery and certainly a touch of the supernatural and this is what makes Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s books unique. Being part of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series it comes as no surprise that there is a book at the centre of the plot; The Labyrinth of the Spirits series by Victor Mataix. This book is an homage to Alice in Wonderland and set in a darker version of Barcelona, accessed by a Labyrinth.
Going back to a much loved series is a wonderful as you reconnect with much loved characters. In this book many of the characters from previous books make an appearance, some only in name, others as physical characters. Daniel now has a son of his own, who as you would expect loves books being the son and grandson of a bookshop owner, and is taken to the dreamlike Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a place that sounds like heaven to me. Daniel’s side kick Fermín Romero De Torres is also back and we learn a bit more of his mysterious past. However, the most intriguing character in this book is the beautiful and strong Alicia Gris. As a child she was orphaned and suffered a horrendous injury during a bombing raid, and grew up in orphanages. Not much is known of her life but in the 1950’s we learn she is in her late 20’s and working for some dark organisation as an investigator, and sometimes assassin. She comes across as cold, heartless and detached, but through the book and in her relationship with working partner Vargas we see her thaw and show emotion towards others. Alicia is a character that grows on you as her story develops, and one I would love to see back in a future book, a real Femme Fatal.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits is a breathtaking and epic book. This was such an amazing reading experience, where I literally got lost in the pages of the book, forgetting time and reading for hours on end. The multiple threads of the plot knit together to create a rich and detailed story that draws you in and captures your full attention. Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a masterful storyteller whose books are magical, and all encompassing with memorable characters. To say I absolutely loved this book would be an understatement, this type of book reminds me why I love reading and books much; sensationally sublime and stunning !!