Cover Image: The Labyrinth of the Spirits

The Labyrinth of the Spirits

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Carlos Ruiz Zafron is one of my top favourite authors and i have been avidly looking forward to reading this, his latest and concluding, fourth novel in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, series.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits, has been a roller coaster of a read and i have relished every single page, often going back and re-reading sections, because of the beauty in the writing and the descriptions of places and people.
All the well-loved characters from the previous books are here, and the story also introduces us to a new one, Alicia Gris, a young woman with past connections to Fermin and Issac, and who is assigned to find Mauricio Valls, the Minister of Culture and previous Governor of Montjuic Prison: a place of torture and death.
Alicia has a deep wound both physically and emotionally, that she received as a child during the Spanish Civil War, but this does not stop her determination in finding and seeking justice, for those who suffered from the regime.
Carlos Ruiz Zafron has carefully tied up all the loose ends and completed a worthy and memorable masterpiece. This is a book that i will be reading again very soon and i can thoroughly recommend the entire series.
. #TheLabyrinthOfTheSpirits #NetGalley

Was this review helpful?

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not my usual genre but will be on the lookout for more of the same.

Will recommend the author to friends and family, and eagerly await more material

Was this review helpful?

This book was a bit of a slog for me, and I fully admit that it may have just been me, but it was hard work. I've read other books in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and although they're all meant to stand alone and be entrances to the labyrinth you'd be disappointed if you read this one first before all of the others, so that doesn't entirely hold true in this instance. I will say that for me personally at times I felt it was very self gratuitous and therefore a little laborious to read.

But don't get me wrong, I enjoyed it, I'm glad a persevered. The last 40% of the book was by far better than the first 60% of the book. I love the characters, as I have always done, and they become more three dimensional each time you visit them. The descriptions are fantastic (but also because they are so detailed they also do make it a bit heavy in places).

I'm not sure why but for some reason I guessed most of the "twists" even before they even were hinted at, I just had a gut feeling.

Regardless, I think if anyone has read any of the other books they'll still really enjoy reading this, and they should read it, it's a very fitting end to a great series.

Was this review helpful?

I loved everything about this book. I read the other three in the series and I am so glad that there was a fourth. I felt like I was reacquainting myself with friends when I was reading about characters that had also been in the previous books. The story had me captivated the whole way through. There is so much to the plot that I feel that I will read again to make sure I have not missed anything. The whole story is told beautifully and every piece of the plot ties up really well.

Thank you so much to Netgalley for my copy.

Was this review helpful?

What a beautifully written book. I loved every second. In translated texts I find that much credit has to go to the translator. Which is not taking away from the author but is an added element. I have read translated books before that have had a really engaging storyline but with a slight absence due, I believe, to nuances in the different languages. This book flows, both in plot and lyrically. A definite recommendation.

Was this review helpful?

A brilliant book, which even though very long is never a boring read at all. I have read others in this series and this book brings the series to a dramatic and conclusive end. I enjoyed getting drawn into the wonderful stories of the Cemetery of Lost Books again and there were plenty of reminders of events from the days of the Civil War which is where we are introduced to one of the main characters in the book Alicia Gris. There is every event in this book from murder right through to a tragic love story and everything in between.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone but especially those who enjoy being drawn into a magnificent world that we can only imagine exists.

Many thanks to both NetGalley and the publishers for the chance of receiving an advance copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I’ve read and loved every book written by Zafón, but It’s a long time since I read the first three books in this series and I was a little apprehensive when I started this book. I had a quick look online to remind myself who was who and what was what! However, as usual, he doesn’t disappoint, I absolutely adored this book. I loved the atmosphere, the multiple narrators, and of course the beautiful crafting/translating of each sentence. The post modern ending is enough to send you cross-eyed too! It’s a big commitment of time to read this book but it’s impossible to overstate how worth that investment this book is. I felt rather emotional when I finished it!

Was this review helpful?

This book forms an epic end to an epic series.
All the well-known and well-loved characters are there, the Sempere family, Fermin, their various neighbours, and David Martin, Julian Carax, and a new author Victort Mataix.
There is also a policeman Hendaya, who subscribes to the Fumero school of policing.

A new strong female, who is the driving force of this book, orphan Alicia Gris was horrifically injured in the Civil War, and her life was saved by Fermin, and Isaac.
She now works for the mysterious Leandro, in a grey area outside the law, and is investigating the disappearance of Mauricio Valls, who was the governor of Montjuic Prison, and featured in previous books.

Needless to say, she finds a book that leads her from Madrid to Barcelona, and as her investigation continues, her path crosses that of familiar characters, and we find out more about them and their relationships, as well as introducing some engaging and tragic new characters.

This is a truly labyrinthine Gothic tale of murder, kidnapping, betrayal, mistaken identity, love, friendship, that finally answers most of the questions raised by the previous books.
It also leaves some stories that are still worth telling, so maybe…..

I would give this more than five stars if I could, and recommend it to anyone who loves a compelling, addictive read, …………………….. but, please read the other three books first!

Thankyou to Netgalley, and Orion Publishing Group for the opportunity to read this book.

Was this review helpful?

I feel like all my favourite childhood authors are bringing out new books this year... and I couldn't be happier! Another gorgeous atmospheric read from Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Was this review helpful?

David Sempere and his family, secrets and a bookshop....with Daniel and his deep thoughts of revenge for what had happened to Isabella, his mother.

His friend , Fermin is so disjointed in how he speaks and jumps around from subject to subject, he is a comedian and philosopher. Then there’s the resolute Alicia all connected to each other and the Sempere family.

There is a clear love of books and the absolute joy of reading is important in this one of Zafon's quartet of novels. So is the act of writing, to document the fascist regime of Franco and it’s barbarity and sheer greed.

This darkness in Barcelona starts to fade with Franco's death, and Spain begins to recover. This is a spellbinding tale telling of the sheer emotions during a miserable and frightening part of Spain’s history and giving a human touch to the heartbreak and fear of that time. I will be thinking about this novel for some time....I can thoroughly recommend it.


I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review

Was this review helpful?

I haven't read any of the previous stories and was completely lost with this one. I think this is the reason I found the story so confusing. I had no idea what was going on. It was a very long book which didn't help.

Was this review helpful?

In many respects Zafon's writing and narrative style remind me of Alexander Dumas and I wonder if he was influenced by him - there are certainly references to his work in this book. Both create fictions of astounding complexity with a whole plethora of vividly described characters and a storyline that has many peaks and toughs. For the most part I really enjoyed this book. It brought together story lines from the previous books in the series whist also introducing a new, very dark storyline. It is a times told with an ironic humour and at other times creates a palpable chill. It can be difficult to keep a hold on the different aspects of the storyline amidst such a densely descriptive tale. My greatest criticism is that there is too much detail which left me feeling like I was wading through treacle. I feel the book could be a good 200 pages shorter than its 816 page length. Zafon does draw all his threads together with great aplomb at the end of the book and as my rating shows I did think it was a work well worth the reading

Was this review helpful?

This is the long awaited last the Cemetary of Fogotten Books series. It was everything I wished for. Beautiful writing as always and a fascinating story. The books brings together the previous three and binds them.

Was this review helpful?

I feel like my review may seem a little unfair as I do feel that in order to get the most out of this book you needed to have read the full series. I have read the first and enjoyed it but definitely needed to have read the other two as well. Neverless very well written , complex and beautifully woven to wrap you in a world thats draws you in. Im going back to find my first book and will be reading them in the right way.

Was this review helpful?

Set against the backdrop of Franco's Spain, this sprawling epic entwines the vagaries of civil war and fascism with the secrets of a family caught up in things far bigger than them, whilst also sending spiralling tendrils of far reaching relationships, secrets, and a deep and abiding love for books throughout Barcelona during a period of about fifty years.
I'd not read any of the authors work before, although I was aware of the critical praise he'd received, and I was happy to learn that it is definitely warranted.
A good books wraps itself around you, each sentence is as important as the last and here is where the author shines. He creates webs of words that entrap the reader and, much like the mysterious Alicia, send shivers down the spine.
Never have I wanted to know more but feared knowing the secrets that are uncovered would also be my own undoing. It is not often that I feel my own muscles clench and release tension whilst reading, a supposedly relaxing past time.
This is one part of an overarching world, and I feel like the characters that were only touched upon are explored at length in other books within the series. For some, the sense of mystery and coming upon a story from its midpoint might be off-putting, but it certainly evokes the intoxicating and shrouded feel of secrets, secrets, secrets, something that crops up many times in the book - cleverly outlining the plague of fascism (which relies entirely upon lies and machinations) whilst intertwining the more common place mysteries that every family in such a time would have hoarded.
I come away from this book reeling, desperately wanting more, but a little afraid of what I might find should I dip my toes in again - exactly how one is supposed to feel.
Highly recommended. Although I suggest reading at least the Wikipedia page on Franco and fascist Spain so one is aware of the backdrop.

Was this review helpful?

The gothic universe created in The Shadow of the Wind, and the following alleyways forged in the sequels culminate in this finale, where all the threads connect to illuminate the horrors, secrets, and terrors of the harrowing and heartbreaking years of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's dictatorship that overturned democratic rule, aided and abetted by the Catholic Church. I loved The Shadow of the Wind and the universe it established with The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, but the following two books, I was disappointed in, I liked them but they fell far short when it came to emulating the brilliance of the first. Mostly, I loved this, it's atmospheric with its beautiful prose, Zafon expertly constructs the labyrinth of secrets, the magic of books, with its intrigue, friendship, love and family. However, if I am to be honest, there is an unevenness to the narrative, and the last part of the book in my eyes is the weakest. We are introduced to the seductive and enigmatic 29 year old Alicia Gris, losing her parents in the relentless bombing of Barcelona in 1938 by the fascists, left with injuries and pain that is to affect her mobility for life. For over a decade, Alicia has worked for Leandro and the political police in Madrid. She wants out, but has to take on one last assignment, find Culture Minister, Mauricio Valls, who has disappeared, along with his driver, presumed kidnapped by enemies.

Valls was the governor of Montjuic prison, where a number of writers were imprisoned, including David Martin and Victor Mataix, the writer of The Labyrinth of the Spirits, a take on Alice in Wonderland for his daughter, but where the heroine, Ariadna, descends into Barcelona's underworld to encounter horror after horror, imagined out of Spain's actual realities of that period. Torture and murder were the norm in the prison, and strangely, Valls had a copy of an edition of Mataix's banned novel which he was perusing. Alicia cottons on that her assignment is not what it purports to be, and she, along with others face deadly dangers by those who have a vested interest in ensuring the dark deeds, secrets and corruption of the fascist regime remain buried. Spain, Barcelona, The City of the Damned, steeped in the blood letting, with its proliferation of secret police, the widespread fear of the likes of Major Fumero and the good looking but monstrous Hendaya, is a place where lies and fiction have the greatest agency, and the truth is to be doubted and ruthlessly suppressed.

The Sempere family with its secrets and bookshop return, with Daniel harbouring bitter consuming thoughts of revenge for what happened to Isabella, his mother. Fermin, comic, saviour and philospher, and the unwavering and resolute Alicia were my favourite characters, both connected to each other and the Semperes. The love of books, the joys of reading are central to Zafon's quartet of novels, as indeed is writing, the need to throw light on the darkest of shadows of Franco's fascist regime with his inner cabal and acolytes, defined by their kleptocracy, butchery, corruption, murdering en masse with impunity, and their avarice. The gloom of Barcelona begins to lift with Franco's death, and chinks of light begin to filter through as slow faltering steps take place as Spain begins to move on from its nightmarish history. Overall, this is a bewitching and beguiling storytelling documenting the unbearable, emotionally heartbreaking inhumanity of Spain's fascist past which I must recommend highly, despite its imperfections. Many thanks to Orion for an ARC.

Was this review helpful?

This is the fourth book in this series which started with Shadow of the Wind, Each can be read individually although there are references to other events and many of the characters are the same. In this novel, a government official has gone missing and Alicia Gris is called upon to investigate the mystery surrounding this. She works for some sort of private agency assisting the police. She is a fascinating character with many flaws but you are 100% behind her as she seeks to discover who has been threatening this man and why he has a banned novel hidden in his room. What she uncovers is quite a conspiracy with many twists and turns. On the way, the story includes Daniel Sempere and his family and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I really enjoyed this novel and it made me think and concentrate! I would highly recommend the series and particularly the first and last books within it. Thank you to Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I read and enjoyed earlier books in this series and so wanted to love this one too. My feeling is that it is far too long. I didn’t begin to enjoy it until after half way – the equivalent of slogging through a whole book of average length. I found many of the characters intriguing and wanted to know more about them and their inter-relationships, which is what kept me reading. It shed some light on the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and what happened to prisoners. Altogether though, for me, the book could have been half the length and would have been more appealing and approachable to the average reader.

Three stars on Amazon's review scale, two on Goodreads.

Was this review helpful?

This is book number 4. Please read them in order,or you will be totally confused and unable to appreciate the complexity and brilliance of this series.
This book returns us to the Cemetery of forgotten books,an eternal city,comprising a labyrinth made up of staircases,tunnels and arches,made up of all the books of the World that await a new owner.
Set in Franco's Spain,this ties up all the loose ends from the previous three books and informs us of the extreme violence,corruption and pure evil deeds that were performed by this government. To be intelligent,artistic or a wordsmith,was to be an enemy of the state,and the murders and torture that were carried out in underground prisons and dungeons are vividly described in great detail,gruesome but necessary. However,there are stories of great love and friendship and loyalty,plus the late introduction of a wonderful female character named Alicia Gris. She is cunning,and full of intellect and has suffered excruciating pain from a war wound,that makes her determined to find justice and get revenge in her own way,is she a positive female role model,or a dangerous loose cannon?. That all depends on whose side you are on,but she demonstrates that the pen is mightier than the sword!!
There are scary and tense descriptions of chases and murders,it is a flowing read that conveys the excitement of the chase and so many mysteries that are now explained.
To conclude,this is a most unusual quartet of books,probably gothic in style,full of strong and determined characters,that have all suffered either individually,or by seeing family destroyed,and this has made the all determined to make amends and bring the perpetrators to justice. Truly a dark period in the history of Spain. I think I was intrigued and dismayed in equal measure throughout these books. I absolutely love these books. I have posted this review to Goodreads today.

Was this review helpful?

An absolutely brilliant book which envelopes you in the story with the most beautiful use of language. You feel by the end that you actually know all the characters involved. I would highly recommend this book to all readers.

Was this review helpful?