R.I.P. VIII: The Books

Behold four of the books I have for the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII. Always I will miss the input of Carl, who began the challenge long ago when I myself was beginning blogging; may I hazard a guess of 2006? Be that as it may, here we are thirteen years later. Feeling autumnal. Willing to ‘frighten’ ourselves with spirits and ghosts and eerie stories.

The Laybrinth of Spirits is the latest in the quartet which makes up the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is, frankly, just as involved and filled with characters as The Shadow of The Wind, a book in which I had to list all the characters on the inside back cover. But, there is an air of mystery, and an aura of the power of books, which melts my heart.

The Spellbook of Katrina Van Tassel by Alyssa Palombo is a retelling and continuation of The Legend of Sleepy Hallow told through the perspective of Ichabod Crane’s forbidden love. It will be published October 2, 2019.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell was first published last October, the paperback came out in March. It is described as, “An extraordinary, memorable, and truly haunting book.” –JoJo Moyes, #1 New York Times bestselling author and, “A perfect read for a winter night…An intriguing, nuanced, and genuinely eerie slice of Victorian gothic.” –The Guardian

The Hanging at Picnic Rock by Joan Lindsay is a 50th anniversary edition of a book which has been called, “A beguiling landmark of Australian literature, it stands with Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides as a masterpiece of intrigue.” Apparently, three girls go off climbing after their picnic, into the shadows of a volcanic outcropping, and never return.

And you? Have you any autumnal reading planned for this fall? For the R.I.P. XIII? (Sign up, if you haven’t already, by clicking here.)

Spanish Lit Month: The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


…you want me to invent a fable that will make the unwary fall on their knees and persuade them that they have seen the light, that there is something to believe in, something to live and die for-even to kill for?”

“Exactly. I’m not asking for you to invent anything that hasn’t already been invented, one way or another. I’m only asking you to help me give water to the thirsty.

This prequel to The Shadow of the Wind holds the same mystery and wonderfully tense atmosphere, with a dedication to books which borders on religious. Andreas Corelli, French publisher with the ever present angel brooch on his lapel, makes the above proposition to author David Martin. He wants David to write a book that has less to do with containing a story than it does with harboring a soul for The Angel’s Game has nothing to do with angels, but everything to do with love, revenge and bibliophilia.

We find the Cemetery of Forgotten Books here again, which is a fortress of tunnels and bridges all leading to a cathedral made of books.

This place is a mystery. A sanctuary. Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and loved and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands, a new spirit…

Andreas Corelli’s game is played out on this board, involving the beautiful city of Barcelona with its real streets, such as Calle Santa Ana on which can be found the bookshop belonging to Sempere & Son, and the real cathedral, Santa Maria del Mar. It is an intricate retreat into the dangers and hopes that novels give us, all with a touch of Spain that is perfect for Spanish Literature Month.

Before I go, a few favorite quotes:

“I don’t trust people who say they have a lot of friends. It’s a sure sign that they really don’t know anyone.”

“May I offer you anything? A small glass of cyanide?”

“We can only accept as true what can be narrated.”

“There is nothing in the path of life that we don’t already know before we start. Nothing important is learned; it is simply remembered.”

Spanish Lit Month: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I disliked The Shadow of The Wind, which is the first book of the trilogy by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (followed by The Angel’s Game and then The Prisoner of Heaven). I even read it twice, once on my own and once to refresh my memory for a book club discussion, neither time liking anything but the idea of a secret library and of selecting one book to guard for your lifetime.
But then I downloaded a free excerpt by Carlos Ruiz Zafon from Nook, Rose of Fire, which gave some background about the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, and my interest was renewed. With vigor.  So, skipping the second book entirely, I have just completed the third and found it wonderful. (They can be read as stand alone books.)
Much of the plot mirrors The Count of Monte Cristo, in that honorable men are imprisoned alongside thieves, and how can one escape? Using the same tactics, our hero Fermin Roman de Torres pretends he is dead and exists the prison, Montjuic Castle, in a bag reserved for corpses. He leaves behind a character named Salgado, who has endured the loss of two fingers and an entire hand in order to keep a secret: the exact location of a huge amount of money he had killed for and stolen.
But of course it is this same Salgado who had entered the bookstore in the very first chapter, before the long and complicated story of their imprisonment was revealed, and it is he who has also escaped and is attempting to retrieve his treasure.
The charm of the book is in a story well told. We return to the characters of Daniel Sempere, and his father. We return to Daniel’s wife, Bea, and son Julien. We return to the streets of Barcelona, and waiting for the mystery involving Fermin’s past to be revealed. And we discover the likes of Mauricio Valls, as evil a character during the Franco regime as ever lived.
(Interestingly enough, as I continue my reading for Spanish Lit Month with Marc Pastor’s Barcelona Shadows, Montjuic Castle reappears. It is a castle which was also a prison, with plenty of corpses surrounding it underground.)