Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

I just finished reading the remarkable Spanish novel The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves). This book is part historical fiction, part crime thriller, part gothic mystery.

In a Barcelona still trying to recover from the Spanish Civil War, ten-year-old Daniel is distressed because he can no longer remember his deceased mother’s face. His father, a bookseller, seeks to console him by initiating him into the existence of a secret place: the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There, Daniel is allowed to choose one volume to be his own; he will become that book’s guardian for the rest of his life. Daniel chooses, seemingly at random, The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. Upon reading the book, he falls in love with it and decides to look for other books by the author.

That’s when things get complicated. Daniel soon discovers that a mysterious, dark figure has been on a mission to destroy all of Carax’s works—and that he himself may be in danger for possessing what could be the last copy in existence.Several years pass, and as he nears manhood, Daniel takes it upon himself to unravel the mystery of what happened to Carax and his writings. With the help of an unlikely partner, Daniel uncovers a Byzantine, tragic story that combines forbidden love, family secrets, heartbreaking loss, and cruel betrayal. Hot on Daniel’s heels is a sadistic government official who wants to get his hands on Carax if he is still alive. And complicating matters, strange things begin to happen that make it seem as though Daniel is reliving some of the significant events of Julián Carax’s life.

In many ways, this novel is a love letter to books and reading, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was one of those rare stories that I hated to put down and hated to see end. I recommend it strongly.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

2 responses to “Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

  1. Read “Angel’s Game.” I loved “Shadow of the Wind,” but “Angel’s Game” is so far Zafon’s masterpiece. A glorious piece of work. I advise you to read slowly, because you’ll be very sad when it’s over.

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