Cover Image: The Labyrinth of the Spirits

The Labyrinth of the Spirits

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Member Reviews

Wow! A hell of a read! Excellent novel, beautifully written.

This long volume brings to a close the series started in The Shadow of the Wind. I read The Shadow in the Wind a long time ago and enjoyed it but haven’t read the two books that followed it. This latest novel takes place mainly during the Franco regime and revolves around Alicia Gris, agent for the Government, embarking on the case of a Minister who has mysteriously disappeared. The book also still involves the Sempere family but Alicia is the main character and catalyst. The plot involves all the worst aspects of living under a Fascist regime including betrayal, murder, torture amongst others.
The style is literary and witty and makes the experience well worthwhile, resulting in a wonderful novel, highly recommended.

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This a wonderfully long, sprawling journey involving some truly well written characters and intricate relationships. The whole saga of the series fits nicely with this addition. Alicia is a character that will stay with me for a long time.

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The long awaited final instalment of the series that began with Shadow of the Wind doesn’t disappoint. Beautifully written but never sentimental with the bleak brutality of Franco’a Barcelona interspersed with a truly wonderful story.

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To be honest, I didn't expect this book to be such hard-going - but then in length it was an epic. I was also under the impression that this novel could be read as a standalone book - this is true to a certain extent, but the self-referential nature of the epilogue made it clear that my understanding of the series would have been enhanced by having read Zafon's previous novels.

The detail in every paragraph was intense, incredible and enviable and Zafon has truly shown the ability to emulate and rival his own fictional author of Julian Carax (even though I found the obvious links between the fictional and actual author to be somewhat heavy-handed and nauseating).

Arriving at the complete narrative at the fourth novel, however, did make it harder to understand the characters and keep track of the wide selection of names and dates, not all of which seemed to make chronological sense.

Regardless, this novel truly deserves the description of 'tour de force' and, although I now need to read something much lighter, I really admire the dark and murky Barcelona created in this book, and the height of intellect and organisation to complete such a series.

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I love this author and couldn't wait to read this follow up to a saga I have enjoyed so much over the years! I've already read it through twice, feeling something different each time, just how it should be.

The prose winds through secret corners and labyrinths with a familiar, though still developing main character to fill your mind with the most vivid pictures any book of fiction can provide, I won't reveal anything more, it deserves a bigger stage than I can give it.

You don't have to read the previous books to enjoy this continuation but it does add to your pure love for this book and its author. A masterpiece. I expected nothing less and got so much more.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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This is the final book in the 'Shadow of the Wind series'. Told in the same gothic style, it takes place during the Spanish civil war and creates a wonderful atmosphere. I had fallen away from this series a little as I didn't enjoy the books that followed The Shadow Of The Wind but I feel as though Carlos Ruiz Zafon has got back on track with the finale. The storytelling in these books is beautiful and so creative.

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I'll admit it, it's been years since I read Shadow of the Wind, Angel's Game, and somehow managing to miss the third in the series completely. Other than vaguely remembering how much I loved Zafon's writing I may as well have been starting from scratch.

Each book in series is self-contained but linked within the Forgotten Book series. The mystery itself was certainly compelling and written with the standard of quality one would expect from Zafon. I thoroughly enjoyed it but couldn't help feel I'd missed out so much more by not re-reading the previous books first.

This was arc from Netgalley and Orion Publishing in exchange for an honest review. With thanks.

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I was given a free copy of this book by netgalley for a honest review.\

This is a series like no other. If you love mystical, soulful, and staying up all nite reading then you wont be disappointed.

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It's been far too long since I last visited this series. Enough time that my memory had faded enough for me to feel confident in agreeing with the idea that this book works as a standalone story, but that really doesn't mean you should read it by itself. Please, don't. It's not that you'll miss nuances and details, this book is rich enough that you can cope, it's just that this is such a beautiful read I don't see how anyone can fail to want to devour the whole thing. This book is truly sublime. That was the other trick my memory had played - I didn't think it could be as good as I'd remembered. Oh, how foolish I was.

Don't get me wrong, the entire structure of this story can take a while to settle. It opens with a series of mini-stories that are, at best, only faintly connected at first glance. As it all comes into focus and connects more firmly the story comes to life, it grows. Simplicity turns into complexity before the plot can be resolved.

In that complexity, there is pain and beauty. Zafon leaves virtually no emotion untouched, and writes with such flair that you feel and live them all. That's the thing. Any book can tell you a story. Good books spark your imagination and let you enjoy the worlds they create. Zafon immerses you in his world. His words so vivid it's like being lost in a painting - here's no need to conquer up anything, he just serves up majestic feasts that consume you as you digest them.

In this instalment, we meet Alicia. A woman both broken and indestructible. She has layers upon layers, and no matter how much you come to know her you're certain there is more underneath. She is a glorious contrast to the returning Fermin - a very old-fashioned character given a fresh lease of life and becoming timeless. So easily he could be a tired cliche, yet here he is a much-appreciated tool to carefully guide the story through tricky waters. It's hard not to fall for the Sempere family, and their little community. Just as shivers run down your spine upon encountering certain others. As much as Fermin exemplifies the whole concept, all of Zafon's characters have this slight air of tradition, an almost fairytale quality to their personalities. Perhaps that's why their emotions wrap around you so easily.

As for the plot... or plots... well, just the one eventually. It's a ride! At times a hard one. The aftermath of the Spanish Civil War showing that the horrors rarely end when the guns stop firing. Of course, Spanish history is very complicated in this regard, and it should be noted that this book is set within living memory for a not insignificant number of people. Without a doubt, that makes a story set in this time a delicate proposition, and from my perspective on the outside, it feels as if Zafon manages to present a sensitive view. Especially considering the horrors he presents. And do be ready for horrors, because the beauty of this book is only highlighted by the gruesome contrast it also offers. Once more, Zafon dips into classical literature to present a nightmare of gothic grandeur. It is a demonstration of literary engineering.

This is a story for book lovers. The bookshop, the books within books, the literary references and homages. It embraces a classic style that means I know I'll be picking up every book in the series for years to come.

This is a masterpiece that can never be captured in a review. Read it. Live it. You won't regret it.

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I read "shadow of the wind" many years ago and hadnt realised this was now the 4th in the series and felt a bit lost with the characters. Although the translation is well done and the writing obviously lyrical I didn't feel able to complete the 800+ pages. My apologies to the author as this is obviously a failing on my part rather than his.

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Having read The Shadow of the Wind and The Angel's Game when they came out i was delighted to receive an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley for review, How I missed the third in the series I don't know but I will be seeking it out so as to complete the series. Initially I found it quite hard to get into the novel. There's a lot of characters but once I was in, I was there! Barcelona is as much a character in this series as any of the humans and I loved revisiting it. If you have read the others and loved them you will love this too. I'm not sure if it's a stand alone book so if you haven't at least read The Shadow of the Wind you might struggle a bit. Recommended.

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It was lovely to step back into 'The Shadow of the Wind' world. I did get a bit lost with all the different characters but that was probably my lack of Spanish rather than the author's fault! I particularly enjoyed the parts where Fermin featured, what a great character he is! I think it would have helped me to have re-read the previous books prior to reading this but the story does hold up on its own, it would just have helped me understand the context a bit more. All in all a great read.

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If you have read the other books in this series, you will need no encouragement to read this one! No spoilers here but we have the extended cast of characters present and the author - as ever - handles them masterfully. The story goes from beautiful to brutal and back to poetic in a few short pages. It is hard to put down but at 850 pages, I'm glad I read the ebook version... There is a complex story in here with crime, romance, saga and all told in a variety of voices but at all times it is easy to follow. I'm not sure how much of the beauty is the original language or the translation but it is definitely worth a read. Recommended - especially if you have read the others.

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I was sent an advance proof copy of The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón to read and review by NetGalley.
I loved this book! I have given it the maximum 5 stars despite the fact that there were a few things that irritated me about it! There was the odd occasion where there was a continuity error and some passages ended up being a bit of a monologue. There was a fair bit of unnecessary repetition and far too many times when the word ‘gotten’ was used - a real pet hate of mine! Perhaps this was more down to the translator than the author, who knows.
Having said all that, this novel is classic Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Character led, and this includes the city of Barcelona, with many intrigues and twists and turns and prose that carries you into another world. I really didn’t want to put it down. It is quite a long book, very satisfying. Not perfect by any means but the good certainly outweighed any niggles for me!

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Another fantastically weaved story from this author. I enjoyed this story a lot and was one of the best in the series. I didn’t want it to end!

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Having never read previous books by Zafon but having heard about his books, I was excited to be offered this book to read by Netgalley.
The language was beautiful even though translated and the writing was emotional and descriptive beyond compare. I found the story intriguing and wanted to keep on reading to find out what was going to happen to the characters - Daniel and the Sempere family, Alicia and her boss, her colleagues and the many evil and twisted people she meets throughout the book. it was rather graphically violent and I was surprised at the number of people who were killed in the story. The actual plot, however, was a rollercoaster ride and very exciting and the conclusion was just perfect for the story.
I will now have to read Zafon's other books!

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Another epic and mighty work from Carlos Ruiz Zafon, fourth book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series.

Alicia Gris is damaged - damaged by war in body and soul, living a tangled life of intrigue and danger. It is Alicia's task to guide the reader through the myriad plots of this book, drawing together the narrative as she reveals the history of the Sempere family, bookshop owners extraordinaires.

Packed with powerful and fascinating characters, a sense of history, and danger close to every page, this is a masterpiece. Highly highly recommended.

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Opening this book and starting to read was like coming home. I relaxed, and missed my train stop- I was in the hands of a master story teller.
The language, even in translation, is inspirational and atmospheric, painting a magical world full of stories within stories.
I read ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and ‘The Angel’s Game’ many years ago, and loved them, so was excited to have the opportunity to read Ruiz Zafon’s latest work. I was being pulled back into a place that I was happy to revisit. Although I haven’t read ‘The Prisoner of Heaven’ I didn’t feel that affected my pleasure in this novel. The quality of writing is exquisite. The story, as you may expect is full of twists, turns and complications but ultimately ties up loose ends and previously unanswered questions. Yes, it is long, but when a book is well written you want to hold onto it for as long as possible.

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Another excellent book from Carlos Ruiz Zafon. The several threads of the story work really well together blending the well-known and loved characters from his previous books into a book it's difficult to put down

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Thanks to NetGalley and to Weidenfeld & Nicolson (Orion Publishing Group) for providing me an ARC copy of this novel that I enthusiastically and freely chose to review.
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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