The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published by Penguin
Ten-year-old Daniel is growing up in Barcelona in the 1950’s, living with just his father since his mother’s death several years earlier. His bookshop owner father takes him to an exciting and secret place where rare books are kept and stored called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and Daniel is allowed to pick out just one for himself. He chooses The Shadow of the Wind, a novel by relatively unknown author Julian Carax, and quickly becomes enthralled with the book, flying through it and begging for more of Carax’s writing. But he is unable to find more of Carax’s novels, and he hears of rumors of a disfigured man who is on a mission to burn every single copy of anything Carax had ever written. As Daniel grows up, he becomes more obsessed with Carax himself, getting involved with many people along the way – people who both help him learn about Julian Carax and teach Daniel about himself in the process.
When I finished reading The Shadow of the Wind, my first thought was, what took me so long to pick up this gorgeous novel? This is truly a novel for those of us who absolutely love and cherish books and the stories within them. Any of us booklovers will see ourselves in Daniel, the boy who connects so powerfully with this novel that he must find out everything he can about its creator. I loved so much about this novel that I’m not quite sure where to begin.
The story itself is quite compelling, in the sprawling, get to know characters over years, kind of way. I loved how well I felt that I got to know Daniel over the course of the book, the reader sees him grow from a little boy of ten years old to an adult by the end of the novel, an adult who falls in love with a woman and plans a future and everything. We see him dream children’s dreams and then by the end of the novel learn hard truths about the world and the people he has admired for most of his life. It’s an amazing transformation and I loved every second I spent getting to know Daniel over the course of the novel.
The story of Julian Carax is also an incredibly compelling one, one that made me want to weep with sadness and anger for all this man’s pain, as well as the characters that surrounded him. There were so many horribly sad details about his life and about those he loved – I can’t explain properly without spoiling everything, but my goodness did so much of this book break my heart!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how gorgeous Zafon’s writing is. His prose is delicious, the kind of writing that you want to slide into, with passages that you want to reread over and over to let them sink in, their deliciousness rolling around in your mind. It’s really something special, the way this man can put together a sentence, and then when so much of the writing revolves around the main character’s love of books, well it’s just incredible. I loved every second I spent reading Zafon’s gorgeous prose.
What can I say besides that I loved The Shadow of the Wind? I thought it was such a fantastic book, and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally pick up Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s work! I will be reading more from him soon, that I can say for sure.