This book had a lot to live up to for me. Zafon wrote one of my all time favourite books in The Shadow of the Wind, and this being the follow up had been eagerly anticipated! That's where it starts to go wrong for Zafon. This book is the prequel to The shadow of the wind, but the only things that are actually good about it are the traits that come from the now sequel.
One of the things I loved about Zafon's writing was the characters within his books. In moments when, and every book has them, the plot goes a bit thin, the thing that made Zafon's book still remain an imperative read were the characters and the whole-hearted association you develop with them.
So for the parts when the characters of the previous book are present in this one, it's very very likeable. When they're not, your attention is furtively drawn to the plot and it's then that cracks appear.
It wants to be a mystery, it wants to rely on it's beatiful Spanish setting, it wants to be a romance, it wants to be heroic fiction, it wants to be horror. And like the proverbial littary drunken tart, it pretentiously flirts with each genre without relenting into taking any home with it.
Having finished the book I was none the wiser about the plot and by what I read, neithe was Zafon. It never completes, because none of it is ever allowed to fully bud, let alone flourish.
I wonder whether, having read it (in literal reverse order), I had read it in the order or real time whether I would have liked it more. Well, the second book certainly would be a rare follow-up that far superiorly exceeds the first. But chances are, had I read the Angels game first, I probably wouldn't have even bothered with The Shadow of the Wind. Which, in itself, would have been the greatest of shames.