Series: Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1
Published by Penguin Group on 1/25/2005
Genres: Adult, Mystery, Thriller
The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax's novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax's novels. As he grows up, Daniel's fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a "porcelain gaze," Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend's sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide. Officially, Carax's dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax's childhood friend. As Daniel's quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax's begin to emerge. Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone, and no scene goes by without its complement of florid, cute and inexact similes and metaphors (snow is "God's dandruff"; servants obey orders with "the efficiency and submissiveness of a body of well-trained insects"). Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel.
A month later, I’m still blubbering over Shadow of the Wind. That’s how amazing it is. It grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. It demands your thoughts in exchange of nothing. That’s right, it gives you nothing in return, except sleepless nights, shock and a sense that few other books will ever hold a candle to this one. Carlos Ruiz Zafón writes an amazing piece of literature in Shadow of the Wind and the English translation is nothing short of brilliant (although admittedly, I don’t speak Spanish, so I can’t really compare). It was flawless and beautiful and all of the adjectives in the world cannot describe how I felt about it. I can’t even begin to describe this book, the plot, its intricacies and the details. I would do it and you an injustice. I’m years late to this book party, but if you haven’t checked this out yet, do it. It is simply one of the best books I’ve ever read.
“Julian had once told me that a story is a letter the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.”
Want to buy Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón?This book was purchased via Amazon for the Kindle app on iPad. Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.
If you liked Shadow of the Wind, be sure to check out The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson.