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Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafonTitle: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Series: This book has a prequel called The Angel’s Game
Publisher: Peguin
Publish Date: 1/25/2005 (Translation by Lucia Graves. The original Spanish was published in 2001.)
Genre: Gothic Mystery
Pages: 487
Source: Used book store
Buy the Book: The Shadow of the Wind

Description: Barcelona, 1945—Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes one day to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the book he selects, a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by one Julián Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last of Carax’s books in existence.

Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love, and before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julián Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly. (Via Goodreads.)

Shaunta’s Review:

It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while, I find myself in a dusty corner of a used book store with a book in my hand that makes me feel like I’ve discovered something. I know that a book with “The New York Times Bestseller” printed on top of “One gorgeous read–Stephen King” isn’t exactly my discovery alone, but when I found The Shadow of the Wind, I still had that little thrill of finding something special that will always feel a little more ‘mine’ than other books.

Zafon had me from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books that reminded me of my beloved and now closed Acres of Books in Long Beach, CA. I fell in love with Daniel, the main character, but his friend Fermin has become one of my favorite literary characters ever. The Shadow of the Wind is a story within a story, full of Gothic creepiness, with Barcelona like a character itself. There are decrepit mansions, old women in asylums, obsessive love, and lots and lots of books. The Shadow of the Wind is, at its heart, a love story for books.

Here’s a great video of the Barcelona this book definitely transports readers to:

There were things that should have turned me off: it’s a long read that sometimes bogged down in its own exuberant descriptions, sometimes it seems like Fafon had a list of literary tricks that he ticked off as he made his way through the book (Bad men that look like spiders? Check. Beautiful women that inspire good men to do bad things? Check. A single letter that ties up every lose end of the mystery at the end of the book? Check.) Over all, though, I was so drawn in by the story, and by falling in love with Barcelona and the characters, that I forgave every flaw.

What I loved: I loved the concept of a book all about the love of books. I loved the Gothic-ness of this story, and how I finished it feeling like I’d been to Barcelona. I loved Daniel and his father and Julian, and most of all I loved Fermin. I loved the beautiful language. I loved the twist at the end, even if it was delivered too neatly.

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