Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Number of Pages: 487
Date Published: 2005
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a novel for those who love books. This mystery unfolds in post-World War II Barcelona, when the owner of an antiquarian bookshop introduces his son Daniel to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. This concept is sure to enrapture any booklover: a library full of all the books that have fallen out of the public eye and are waiting to be rediscovered. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, so he deliberates carefully. But even after much thought, he could never have imagined that his choice of Julián Carax’s Shadow of the Wind would lead to such an unforgettable adventure. After reading and quickly falling in love with this novel, Daniel is eager to learn more about its author. He soon discovers that Carax’s life has been enshrouded in mystery: an enigmatic character has systematically destroyed all of Carax’s novels, with the sole exception of Daniel’s copy of Shadow of the Wind. What happened to Carax? Where is he now? Why is someone determined to erase him from history? Daniel sets off to find out, encountering colorful characters and discovering shocking conclusions along the way.
I would highly recommend this book for a number of reasons. The unraveling of Carax’s mystery as Daniel comes closer and closer to finding answers is enough to keep any reader captivated. The various characters are quirky and lovable, allowing the reader to feel personally attached as if he or she were one of the gang. Their frequent encounters with danger raise anxiety, while also piquing interest. All of this combined with the 1950s Spanish backdrop and heavy Gothic atmosphere created by Zafón make for great escapist literature. While I can admit that Zafón’s thick use of imagery and excessively literary attempts can be a bit overdone (every page is filled with fleeting shadows, haunted mansions, flickering candles, and the like), I still think it makes for a read that is pure fun.
Review by Maria Peroni, A&S '16