Review: The Labyrinth of the Spirits

“I have a condition that prompts me to want to know the truth at all times. You can imagine the amount of distress this ailment brings to those of us who could otherwise live so content in a state of blissful ignorance,” – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 832  pages
Genre: Fiction, noir
Published by HarperCollins, 2018
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: I think I’ll come back to this entire series in a few years.
Reviewed by Indiana

In his usual winding and witty writing style, Carlos Ruiz Zafon brings his Cemetery of Forgotten Books tetralogy to a close.  

While fan favorite characters like Daniel Sempre, Bea, and Fermin continue to be a part of the story, new characters make their way into the series, namely, and perhaps most prominently, Alicia Gris.

Though she was injured in an accident during the 1938 bombings in Barcelona, she’s made out to be an all around kick-ass character; one that brings to mind that of Lisbeth Salander. Zafon tells and shows the reader over and over and over and over and over again how beautiful and terrifying Alicia looks; how no man can look away from her. The author decides to express this same notion in nearly every scene the character is in and it undermines the strength of the character and that of the writing. It’s as if Zafon finally thought it might be time to try and be progressive by writing a female protagonist into his books but couldn’t do it without making her another femme fatale.

Alicia is a sort of detective, working for a man named Leandro. Though he takes care of her, it’s clear from day one that her working for him isn’t exactly a choice. She’s made to work with Vargas, a detective with the police force who she tries to lose on many occasions. But they end up coming together to solve a few twisted mysteries.

They are tasked by the government with finding Don Mauricio Valls, a culture minister in the Franco administration who disappeared. Valls, a writer and book collector, and used to work in the jail that once housed writers like David Martin and others, which is discussed earlier in the series.

As Alicia and Vargas begin to piece together Valls’ disappearance, they also begin to discover secrets about the Sempre family. Secrets that don’t seem like theirs to tell.

The climax is just as twisted and exciting as his others — one part involves the perfect writer’s death, a pen through the eye in a mysterious library.  

However, the denouement is long winded. There were still about 50 pages left after the climax of the book was complete and I was left wondering why the author was still going.

Beyond that, The Labyrinth of the Spirits was an incredible conclusion to a series that is a gift to bibliophiles everywhere.

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