The Shadow of the Wind

September 22, 2016
The Shadow of the Wind Book Cover The Shadow of the Wind
The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Fiction
Penguin Books
January 25th, 2005
Paperback
487
Library
2001, in Spanish

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

(via Goodreads)

 

If only I knew how to write this book review.

The Shadow of the Wind enraptured me within paragraphs. I was immediately pulled into a beautiful world of well-woven words. Eventually, I even gave up writing down all my favorite quotes. There were so many great moments and sentences that I was stopping too frequently. I needed to keep pushing through with the story. The story gripped me right from the start and didn’t let go until I had read every single word.

People tend to complicate their own lives, as if living weren’t already complicated enough.

Set in Barcelona from 1945-1966, The Shadow of the Wind is the story of Julian Carax and Daniel Sempere.shadow_of_the_wind_cemetery_forgotten_books As a young boy, Daniel is taken to a magic place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Here he must pick out a book that he will care for all his days. The book 10-year-old Daniel retrieves is none other than The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. After staying up all night reading this novel, and realizing that it has touched him and changed him forever, Daniel knows he must find more of Carax’s works. But once he starts to look, Daniel discovers someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has ever written. Intrigued and compelled, Daniel finds himself trying to learn as much as he can about Carax, his life, and his works. Soon, Julian and Daniel’s lives are forever entangled as Daniel tries to solve the mystery of Julian Carax.

Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.

There is little I can say about The Shadow of the Wind without revealing critical plot points. the-shadow-of-the-wind-barcelonaThis was a rare read for me: I frequently had to double back on my guesswork. Typically, I’m good at predicting where a book will go. However, Daniel has to cope with unreliable characters who only know partial truths. I know that I will re-read this book over and over again as time passes. I am certain that with each re-reading I’ll find something new to discover. Some hidden secrets that Zafon left between the pages. Plus, I know that the first re-read, now that everything has been revealed to me, will be an eye opener. I will never be able to read this book for a first time again. This is both sad and wonderful.

The Shadow of the Wind is on many levels, a tribute to all literature. Zafon’s writing is brilliant.

Books are mirrors- you only see in them what you already have inside you.

This book also touched on many genres. Sometimes, it was literary fiction with beautiful quotes and fantastic ideas. At times it was genuine horror– I was certainly biting my nails and starting to question my choices at one point. It certainly has an aspect of romance, after all, we are in Barcelona. Magical realism played a part as well, giving us an air of mystery. Crime Fiction stood out as we got to know more about the infamous Inspector. Historical fiction was brought to the fore with mentions of the Spanish-American War, World War I, the Spanish Civil War (our primary backdrop for this book), and World War II. And, throughout it all, The Shadow of the Wind was a mystery.

Paris is the only city in the world where starving to death is still considered an art.

Trying to learn a bit more about the book, I stumbled upon Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s website.the-shadow-of-the-wind-walking-tour He composed some beautiful music to accompany his novel. I feel like his compositions really capture the essence of the book, and I encourage you to listen to them. Plus, he also put together a walking tour of the city so you can explore the actual locations identified in the book. [Map to the left] Brilliant. This is a big tourist attraction now for people going to Barcelona, and certainly an additional reason I would visit!

In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend. 

I could go on and on about how much I adored this book, the setting, the characters, the mystery… Yet there is little I can say without giving away essential information. As a beautiful gothic novel, all I know is that if you haven’t read this yet, you need to. Trust me.

5 Stars

21 Comments

  • Diana September 23, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I didn’t know that it is classified as gothic but I do love this book. Great review.

    • Jackie B September 23, 2016 at 10:26 am

      Thanks, Diana! How would you classify this book? I really struggled with that, and I’m open to new ideas!

  • Read Diverse Books September 23, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    Another glowing review for this book. I’ve had it on my TBR for at least 2 years now. I think it’s time to finally bite the bullet and read it! I rarely come across a review that’s less than 5 stars. It truly must be a special book. Next time I go to a book store, I will be sure to get a copy!
    .

    • Jackie B September 24, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      It’s just an incredible and unique experience– I think you’ll really enjoy it. But, while it is set in Barcelona, there isn’t a lot about this that screams “diverse book!”. Zafon just writes very realistic characters in a very real world. The thing that blew me away the most was how diverse in genre this book tended to be. Sometimes, I felt I was reading mystery, sometimes thriller, sometimes literary fiction. I was always on my toes.
      I hope you read it and enjoy it! I look forward to your future review.

  • whatthelog September 24, 2016 at 7:35 am

    I love The Shadow of the Wind! Are you planning on reading Zafon’s other books?

    • Jackie B September 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      I don’t know! I really want to read more he has written, but I am nervous that it will ruin the magic of this book for me. Do you think I should? If so, any suggestion for my next Zafon?

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom September 24, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read this year! You are so right, this is one of those books that you will re-read for years to come, and each time you will have a different take away. Lovely review Jackie 🙂

    • Jackie B September 25, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! I’m so glad you enjoyed it too. 🙂

  • Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks September 25, 2016 at 2:24 am

    This is such a lovely review! I’m so glad you enjoyed this book so much. I read it a while ago, and I remember loving it, especially all of the genres mixing into the story. This magical realism made me so dreamy, and Zafon has an incredible way with words 🙂

    • Jackie B September 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Thanks, Marie! I love how subtle the magical realism is, too. I questioned if this book even contained elements of magical realism until a discussion with some friends. At that moment I thought to myself, “Of course! Why didn’t I see that?”
      Have you read any of Zafon’s other works? I am hesitant to pick up another and possibly ruin the magic of this book.

  • Elliott October 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    This is one of my favs and I hope the English translation was as good as the original. I classify it as hardboiled/detective/suspense. In Spanish, you hear the term “novela negra” which means a dark novel and that also works.

    I’m also hesitant to read any other Zufon books. Often, when a good book “becomes” a series, it can ruin things. At least for me.

    • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      That is *exactly* how I feel, Elliot! I have had series ruin fantastic books for me when they should just be left alone. That’s my current stance on the sequel to Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, as well.
      Thanks for sharing your feelings on classification- it’s such a challenge. I do like the phrase novela negra– I’ll adopt that. Any suggestions for a translated novela negra I could read?

      • Elliott October 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

        Jackie,

        tbh, English is the lingua franca for hardboiled detective novels. Doyle, Hammet, Chandler, Christie – aside from a Borges and Cortazar short story, not a lot happening on the Spanish front. I think that’s why Sombra del Viento was so lauded; nobody really saw it coming.

        • Jackie B October 18, 2016 at 3:20 pm

          Now *that* is an interesting notion. For some reason, I never expected that– but I lean towards assuming other cultures are better (more interesting?) at things than my own. I have to be in the right mood for Doyle and Hammet, but I really should read more of Christie’s works! <3

  • LizScanlon November 28, 2016 at 9:54 am

    Not that long ago I added this book to my TBR pile after reading someone’s review… these quotes are just wow and I need to get my mitts on this read pronto!

    • Jackie B November 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      There are so many great quotes in this book. It was a challenge just selecting a few– and this is even more than I typically include in a review. I strongly recommend reading The Shadow of the Wind. It was quite an experience– in a good way. 🙂

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