Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Posted by Simcha 7:15 PM, under | 8 comments

When eleven year old Daniel wakes up crying one night because he can no longer recall his deceased mother’s face, his father takes him by the hand and brings him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. In this immense building of winding passageways and rows of bookshelves, Daniel is invited by his father to choose for himself one book from the vast selection; a book that will be his to guard. After wandering through the isles of books, Daniel finds himself drawn to a leather bound book entitled Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, an author whom neither Daniel nor his father have ever heard of.

After devouring his new book, Daniel is eager to find more works by this unknown author, but he soon discovers that all of Carax’s books have slowly disappeared over the years, as someone has set out to burn them all. Determined to learn more about Carax and the disappearance of his books, Daniel soon sets off on a path that will lead him on a journey of discovery which he never could have anticipated, as he slowly unravels the mystery that is Julian Carax.

The Shadow of the Wind is not the kind of book I usually read, and I had actually assumed it would have some elements of fantasy in it because I had seen it mentioned on a couple of fantasy book blogs that I follow. It turned out to be a historical, gothic mystery- very far from my regular genre reading- but I still enjoyed it.

There are so many wonderful characters in this book, from Daniel and his colorful friend Fermin to the psychotic and dangerous Inspector Fumero. Julian Carax is at the center of it all, and as one mystery after another is slowly revealed, you get to know Julian and his friends and family, and discover unexpected relationships between many of the various characters.

I did have a bit of hard time with the dark tone of the book. As you learn more about Julian, you come to care and root for him, even as you watch his life slowly spiral down into one of misery and misfortune. I just couldn’t see how the story could possibly end satisfactorily and I spent most of the book impatient to get to the conclusion, which is probably why I’m not much of a mystery reader. The pace of the book is also unhurried, as the story is slowly built, and some readers might have trouble with this, though I found it interesting enough that the slow pace didn’t bother me.

The Shadow of the Wind was an excellent book that still has me thinking back to it a few days after finishing it. I did find the ending to be satisfying though it took me a while to dispel the somber mood that the book had put me in. And while I would like to follow up with the second book by Zafon, The Angel’s Game, I think I’ll need to fortify myself first with a few more lighthearted books.

8 comments:

This sounds like a really interesting book. I like the idea of a mystery behind an author. Sounds great. I had thought there would be more of SF to it as well. I may have to think on this one. Great review.

I've been meaning to read this one, maybe this year. Thanks for the review!

I really love this author. His next book The Angel's Game is a bit more supernatural and just as lovely.

Simcha,
The Shadow of the Wind is one of the best books I read in my life.

Okay, I think this book is going on my list to get. Thanks!

@ediFanoB: Thanks for visiting! I'm curious, what is it about this book that makes it the one of the best books that you have ever read?

@ Melissa: You really shoul try it, particularly since you've been wanting to start reading more mysteries. This book is certainly full of them

It is the best book I read in years. It haunted me long after I finished it and it still haunts me :)
"The Angel's Game" is a very good book too, but I favor "The Shadow of the Wind" more. Still, Carlos Ruiz Zafon became one of my favorite authors with only two books. Excellent writer :)

Mihai & TJ: Perhaps you can tell me this then, did you feel that there was something missing in the story of Fumero? I thought there would be another mystery revealed involving him, especially when he got so upset about Daniel and Fermin visiting the nursing home. It seemed like that visit in particular, triggered Fumero's anger, and I thought it had to do with a secret that he was hiding, but there didn't end up being any. I also thought there would be more of a story to the Fumero's assistant who sympathetic to Daniel, and I was disappointed that there wasn't. Did either of feel the same?

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