Thursday 19 April 2018

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Labyrinth of the Spirits"

Ruiz Zafón, Carlos "The Labyrinth of the Spirits" (Spanish: El laberinto de los espíritus) - 2016 
(El cementerio de los libros olvidados #4)

It was a lucky day in 2001 when I first stumbled upon my first book by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Finally the fourth book in the series of the Cemetery of Forgotten books has been published and was available as a paperback in translation. You can't imagine how I have waited for this.

And I was not disappointed. The fourth novel was just as exciting as the first three that had originally been called a trilogy but - luckily - the author decided to turn it into a tetralogy. Maybe he'll even write a fifth one? No matter what, if he is writing another book, I am going to read it.

We have learned a lot about the family Sempere and the authors they read, their friends and their lives, esp. the lives of the people in Catalonia during the Franco regime. It must have been horrible. But the author manages to describe all the incidents meticulously, with so much detail that you can imagine having been there yourself.

In this novel, he gets behind the scenes of a minister and his evil deeds. The Sempere family is involved again and we also hear about some of the characters from the previous episodes. Apparently, you can read the series in whatever order you want, there is always some information from the other books. I intend to re-read all the other three books soon.

These are the first books in the series:
- "The Shadow of the Wind" (La Sombra del Viento)
- "The Angel’s Game" (El Juego del Ángel)
- "The Prisoner of Heaven" (El Prisionero del Cielo)

From the back cover:

"The internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author returns to the magnificent universe he constructed in his bestselling novels The Shadow of the Wind, The Angel’s Game, and The Prisoner of Heaven in this riveting series finale - a heart-pounding thriller and nail-biting work of suspense which introduces a sexy, seductive new heroine whose investigation shines a light on the dark history of Franco’s Spain.

In this unforgettable final volume of Ruiz Zafón’s cycle of novels set in the universe of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, beautiful and enigmatic Alicia Gris, with the help of the Sempere family, uncovers one of the most shocking conspiracies in all Spanish history.

Nine-year-old Alicia lost her parents during the Spanish Civil War when the Nacionales (the fascists) savagely bombed Barcelona in 1938. Twenty years later, she still carries the emotional and physical scars of that violent and terrifying time. Weary of her work as investigator for Spain’s secret police in Madrid, a job she has held for more than a decade, the twenty-nine-year old plans to move on. At the insistence of her boss, Leandro Montalvo, she remains to solve one last case: the mysterious disappearance of Spain’s Minister of Culture, Mauricio Valls.

With her partner, the intimidating policeman Juan Manuel Vargas, Alicia discovers a possible clue - a rare book by the author Victor Mataix hidden in Valls’ office in his Madrid mansion. Valls was the director of the notorious Montjuic Prison in Barcelona during World War II where several writers were imprisoned, including David Martín and Victor Mataix. Traveling to Barcelona on the trail of these writers, Alicia and Vargas meet with several booksellers, including Juan Sempere, who knew her parents.

As Alicia and Vargas come closer to finding Valls, they uncover a tangled web of kidnappings and murders tied to the Franco regime, whose corruption is more widespread and horrifying than anyone imagined. Alicia’s courageous and uncompromising search for the truth puts her life in peril. Only with the help of a circle of devoted friends will she emerge from the dark labyrinths of Barcelona and its history into the light of the future.

In this haunting new novel, Carlos Ruiz Zafón proves yet again that he is a masterful storyteller and pays homage to the world of books, to his ingenious creation of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and to that magical bridge between literature and our lives."

Favourite quotes:
"You drink to remember, you write to forget." David Martín
"The Semperes travelled through books, not the map."

See more comments on my ThrowbackThursday post in 2022.


  1. Oh yes, I loved the first two in this series. For some unknown reason I have not yet read the third, but that is fine because Labyrinth will not be out in English until later this year, so I can catch up. But since I now know much more about Catalonia than when I first read Shadow, I think I might reread the first two and then go on. When I read the first two books, I was ignorant about Catalonia, so it might as well have been fantasy to me. Thanks so much for reviewing this or I might not have known about it.

    1. You're welcome, Judy. Always a pleasure to recommend a book I really loved. It doesn't really matter in what order you read the books, he has written them that they "intersect" but don't give away anything you should have read about earlier or anything. I will reread the first three once I have them back (lent them to a friend and I know I will get them back).

      I have Catalonion friends and being Eruopean, you hear a lot more about them, I suppose, so I knew about their troubles. I think it is good that they became known a little more through Carlos Ruiz Zafón's books. I think I have read all of his works so far.

      Happy Reading

  2. It's great when you find authors you love. Cheers

    1. I totally agree. I think I have read anything by him that was translated - except a short story book that I'm reading right now.

      I think Carlos Ruiz Zafón writes books taht almost everyone would enjoy.

      Happy Readings and Greetings to you,