Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Labyrinth Of The Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Labyrinth Of The Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
First published in Spain in Spanish as El Laberinto de los Espiritus by Planeta in 2016. English language translation by Lucia Graves published in the UK by Weidenfeld and Nicolson today, the 18th September 2018.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Amazon US / Amazon UK

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.

Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.

I remember that I absolutely loved Zafon's first Cemetery Of Forgotten Books, Shadow Of The Wind, when I read it way back in 2011 (according to my Goodreads!). That was before I began blogging and, as a consequence, reviewing everything I read and I have found that if I don't write my own thoughts about a book, I struggle to recall much about it later on. Despite my enthusiasm for Shadow Of The Wind, I got bookishly distracted and so haven't yet read either of the middle two instalments. However, I spotted Labyrinth Of The Spirits on NetGalley last month and excitedly requested it, especially because I spotted Zafon's explaining that this series is not necessarily intended to be read in strict order. Instead readers can approach the cycle like a labyrinth, choosing their entrances and exits at random. Now that's my kind of series! Regular Literary Flits visitors will know that I am almost incapable of reading a series in order and here I am actually encouraged not to!

The Labyrinth Of The Spirits is a gorgeously immersive novel and, having finished it on Saturday, I am now experiencing a serious book hangover. I want to be back in Zafon's 1960s Barcelona sipping a cortado in a tiny cafe or rushing through dark alleyways in pursuit of Alicia and Vargas. Alicia is a brilliant character, a darkly flawed borderline-alcoholic with an amazing brain and I loved her wardrobe too. Labyrinth is a far longer novel than I usually read so Zafon has plenty of space to develop his superb characters and to place them in deliciously evocative locations. The story is violent, frequently disturbingly gruesome and mind-bogglingly convoluted - and I absolutely loved every page. I cannot begin to imagine how Zafon kept all those narrative threads straight in his own mind. This book is truly a masterpiece. Now I MUST get a hold of those middle two novels and I think I might treat myself to a Shadow reread as well.

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Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon / Mystery fiction / Books from Spain


  1. I'm about to finish it and loving it too. I read the first and the second but must get hold of the third. Great review!

    1. An incredible series! I need to look out for the middle two :-)

  2. That sounds like a really good mystery.

  3. I’ve read the first book Shadow of the Wind and loved it. Went on to read his other books but never got back to this series. Good to know you don’t have to read them in order. Thanks Stephanie! ❤️❤️

    1. I was so glad to see we're actually encouraged to read in a random order here!