I always enjoy books by this author. This was no exception. The Labyrinth of Spirits starts in the first person viewpoint of our old friend Daniel who featured in the other books. His story continues but we also learn Alicia's story and there are many stories woven into this book, so many threads of pasts and people come together, like many links on the spider's web that make up one amazing story. We are back with our old friends from the previous books and the stories told in them are elaborated and concluded in this huge novel.
So how can I put into words how wonderful this book is?
It's violent, beautiful, dark, intense, scary. There was a character who chilled me! As only real people and not fantastical monsters can! I wonder how much of this is based on fact, the truth is always a lot more scarier than the fiction.
Reading this book you feel as though you are actually there, it's a immense sense of place. The style is mesmerising, riveting and the writing is poetic. I loved it.
I loved the Cemetery of Lost Books series, and, the last installment of the series, The Labyrinth of the Spirits didn't let me down. An enchanting, Gothic tale full of mysteries, twists, turns and books about books. This chilling finale finally brings everything together and ties up all the loose threads from the previous books in the series. Unputdownable.
From Good Reads:
Back to the world started in Shadow of the Winds (which I utterly adored)
Thriller, Mystery, Romance, Historical Fiction - all of these set in a beautifully created world that is an utter joy to revisit.
Yes, this ties up strands from previous books, yes we revisit much loved characters, yes we go back to the world previously visited - but this stands on its own with wonderful characters (Alicia we are rooting for you throughout.), and a marvellous plot that absolutely stops you from going to bed.
Read it now!
The Shadow of the Wind is one of my favourite books of all time, and I have read the other titles in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series without getting quite the same level of buzz (although I still love them!). I have to say that the Labyrinth of Spirits is such an exciting return to everything I loved about the first book. The dark, dangerous atmosphere of the Barcelona streets, each character so wonderfully full of secrets. The ending was everything I dreamed of for this series and makes me want to read through them all again (in fact, I might just do that right now...)
This substantial read forms one part of the quartet of the Cemetery of Forgotten books. Translated by Lucia Graves, this is an intricate mystery that navigates through and around Barcelonan historical times from 1919 to 1992.
Alicia is a strong yet likeable female character that is a police agent who has been commissioned to find Don Maurico Valls, a culture administrator, who works within the Franco administration. He has recently disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Although an extensive read it is beautifully written and depicted. Much of the descriptive prose are inspiring, with a bounty of choice to indulge in, but features such as: - ‘The water of Canelatos Fountain glistened in the void suspended like a necklace of glass tears’
Valls is a writer and owner of very rare books. Much from this is ultimately linked through books and other authors writing that essentially conveys that fiction is very much based around actual events of some sorts.
All the characters are bold, deftly described and hold your interest. There are quite a lot of masochistic views reflective of the era. The moving back and forth to different times risk being a bit disruptive, likely to enhance the mystery and build intrigue as interwoven aspects cross over, but did at times mean the writing lost its cadence. Considering the size of the book the skill is probably that this did only happen in patches, and did not spoil it for me, but is a sizeable risk factor when producing such a tome to sustain readership.
There is a great blend of politics, reference to Catalan issues, Spanish historical events and characters such as Dan Quixote - some macabre violence also. There is an immersive feel about the lifestyles and destinations it was set in. The mystery is intelligently written with complex interlocking plots, conveyed in a relaxed and flowing style, but it takes a certain reading commitment given the size of the read and absence of tension to reach a tad lengthy but not altogether unsatisfying denouement.
An interesting aspects of the four books in the The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series is that they can be read in any order. This one, the last, is my first. It's hard to say whether plot points were missed or nuances lost, but I did feel I was reading a standalone book. This is a complex book, weaving many characters and times together, and though some were laboured, that could be because the importance was set in the earlier novels.
This isn't a book for the faint-hearted - it's colossal, with enough characters and plots to fill multiple books. I turned the last page today, and it feels like I've been reading this since the summer. Some parts are a slog: I found Fermin irritating (possibly an overly exuberant translator) and some of the lengthier passages could have done with a trim, but this is an excellent achievement. An intricate story, spanning genres, full of treats.
I took my time over this book reading chunks of it over a period of time, it took commitment but it was worth it!. The dated descriptive history of Barcelona and Spain was fascinating as we followed the Sempere family in the developing story line. The characterisation was brilliant, I really felt I got to know the characters.
A very well researched historical story full of intrigue and love with injected humour.
My thanks go to the author, publishers and Netgalley in providing me with this arc in return for a honest review.
Sorry I didn’t get round to reading this. I loved his previous book that I read. If you want more reviews I would be happy to oblige.
And so we reach the finale of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet - and now that I've (finally) got round to reading it I'm left with mixed emotions. It has been so long between me reading each of the books that I confess a lot of the intricate connections that are woven together here might have passed me by. That is not to say that the book doesn't stand on its own - it could be read quite easily if you haven't read any, or all, of the previous books. It is long - boy, it's a weighty tome - so it needs some determination, but it is a rewarding read. The overarching background history of Spain, and Barcelona, is fascinating and has interested me since I studied Spanish at school..
Thriller, historical novel, meditation on the importance of stories and books - what's not to enjoy. Now I think I need to go back and re-read the first 3 books again! Definitely a recommended read.
I wanted to love it but it lacked the magic and engagement of the first one. Too lost in its own prose, not enough narrative. A good book, but slightly too self consciously written
I feel very mixed about this book. Having read the previous 3 books in the series I was very much looking forward to the culmination. It took me quite a while to read the book and felt that I needed to go back & forth to check details as I was progressing.
I enjoyed finding more about the Sempere family and love the characters and further development. I am just unsure about the main story line as it went on.. The book is very much a murder mystery and was perhaps a little too long.
Another great book from this author. I’ve loved every book I’ve read by him and this one was no different. Carlos Ruiz Zafon remains one of my favourites!
Excellent read a well-deserved follow-up to the series! Enjoyed the writing and a purchased a hardcover edition for a re-read in the future
To do true justice to this story you should read all books in the series in short succession and not over a period of many years as I did, the reason being there are many connections, characters and interwoven stories that I simply couldn’t remember from my initial love of ‘shadow of the wind’.
That being said, even with my terrible memory I really enjoyed the finale of this epic tale.
I can understand the reviews of others about the length of the book and perhaps it could have ended sooner, but when you are enjoying a read there is no complaint from me about it’s continuation.
The fourth instalment to The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books Series; it’s been quite a wait for this to come out, but it was certainly worth it. This book can be read as a stand-alone or read to pull all the threads of the previous three books together.
It took me a while (about a fifth of the book) to submerge myself into The Labrybrinth of the Spirits, but once there I was truly hooked. It perhaps comes from the fact that the lead character, Alicia Gris, is not that likeable- she’s an antihero- and perhaps all i wanted was the old familiars ... but in time Alicia carved space for herself and earned a spot on my top characters list.
This book gives harsh insight into life under the fascist government and surviving the civil war. There were points where I was reading through fingers obstructing my vision or asking my husband to summarise the scene with less gory details for me.
I loved the first book in the series ‘The Shadow of the Wind’, and this comes close second for me.
Although this was #4 in the series and I had only read the first one it did not matter. This can be read easily as a one off as the characters are introduced in such a manner that you can easily follow the story and their history. However I would suggest that for completeness it would be wise to read the previous books in the series.
This is a story full of intrigue, love and history based around Spain, mainly Barcelona, and its troubles. I loved the fact that the author gives dates throughout which helps put the facts into perspective. I own up to having to research the facts and discovered that what is written is true and horrific that it all happened. I found that this was a book that I did not want to put down as there was always something new that was being resolved by the characters. The story is centred around the Sempere family and close friends and from the very beginning and I felt that I knew them personally as they are so well described and wished them all well. I love the fact that the author Carlos Zuis Zafon was able to create a story where the reader had identified the good and the bad people and then all of a sudden, nearly all the way through, this is all overturned leaving the reader not knowing who was really on the good side and who was a bad person. Carlos is a wonderful talented story teller that embraces the reader into all the situations.
I picked up this book - even though it's the last in the series and I haven't read any of the previous books - because I'm always interested in books with a woman protagonist. Initially what drew me in were the descriptions of Barcelona and made me nostalgic about my own holiday to the city a few years ago. I was tempted to revisit all those places. But soon it was the mystery that I got involved with, even as I wondered how it would pan out over so many hundred pages.
The author writes well, creates vivid imagery and complex characters. He has a wonderful imagination. But like most male authors, he reaches a big, concrete wall when it comes to imagining women. All women in the book are unidimensional and there only to support, indulge and exist for the men's character growth. They hardly interact with each other, and the few times when they do, they talk only about men. They are defined by the sway of their hips or the roundness of their curves or the sexual desire that they evoke in men. This is true even for Alicia, the central character. If the women are not doting and protective wives or angelic girlfriends, they are highly sexualised and desirable vixens who you wouldn't want to take home to meet your mother. A hugely disappointing angle from an otherwise engaging narrative.
An intriguing, mysterious and enthralling book, full of complicated characters. I initially found it difficult to engage, but gradually became unable to put it down. I will be reading more of Carlos Ruiz Zafon if all his novels are as good as this masterpiece.
I read the previous books in this series as they were published many years ago, so I jumped at the chance to receive an arc of this book.. now it’s quite possible that my brain has turned to mush over the years, and I did not reread the previous books to warm up this book, but I couldn’t get into it at all. And the phrase ‘it’s not you- it’s me’ never seemed more appropriate.
I sometimes feel you cannot do justice when reviewing. this authors writing. Dark and lyrical springs to mind. He manages to incorporate a love of books while painting a picture of a disturbing world of secret police and a conspiracy of horrors stretching back to Franco and the Spanish Civil War.
Alicia Gris still carries the scars and horrors she encountered as a child even though as an adult she appears to be a confident beautiful woman. As to some of the other character portrayals to name a few we have Fermin the irascible friend of the Sempere family, the deeply sinister Leandro Montalvo and his sadistic associate Hendaya who all add to the macabre threads of the plot.
You can see from the onset how the strength and weaknesses of the characters gradually unfold. You know from the start Alicia will fight through her pain to uncover the truth. I cannot praise Carl Ruiz Zafon enough. He is an excellent storyteller and master of the labyrinthine world of books and the Cemetery of Forgotten. I would not hesitate to recommend this and his other books.