Book description from the author's homepage:
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the 'cemetery of lost books', a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out LA SOMBRA DEL VIENTO by Julian Carax.
But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from LA SOMBRA DEL VIENTO, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.
I'm not quite sure if I'm able to place The Shadow of the Wind in just one category; the book can be described as a Gothic, mystery/crime and romance novel. Zafón writes in a most beautiful and descriptive way that makes you want to keep on reading. I would like to quote Stephen Kings description of this novel:
'If you thought the gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind. In Zafón's hands, every scene seems to come from an early Orson Wells movie. One gorgeous read.'This novel takes place in Spain in the time period 1945-1966, when Francisco Franco was head of state/dictator there. The Barcelona described in this novel is far from the tourist attraction it is today. Zafón gives us an impression of how times were for the people in Spain at that time; economy, politic and the social aspects.
Some authors have trouble finding balance when describing the scenery in which their novel is taking place, some includes so many details that the story becomes tiresome, others again doesn't describe the scenery well enough. The scenery created by Zafón in The Shadow of the Wind; the buildings, streets and the monuments in Barcelona, is perfect.
Zafón slowly, although not to slowly, unveils small pieces of information about the mystery concerning the author, Julian Carax, to the readers and the main character, Daniel. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed about some aspects of the cardinal plot, early on I figured out parts of it myself. I love it when the solution of the mystery is hidden from me until the story is revealing it to me. However that's not entirely Zafóns fault(I'm just that smart...ehm), but a small part of the mystery reminded me of something I read in a book a couple of years back.
I loved the way we got to know the secondary characters in this book, I felt that I got to know the history to each one of them and I think that is quite impressive(quite a few books have secondary characters that's not being introduced properly). My favorite was a character called Fermin Romero de Torres, ex-spy and ex-beggar.
The book has a wonderful blend of mystery, horror, humor and heartbreak. I would definitely recommend it!
My rating of this book:4/5
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About the author:
Carlos Ruiz Zafón was born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1964. His parents house laid close by the famous Roman Catolic church, designed by Antoni Gaudí(Gaudí never got the chance to finish his masterpiece because of a tragic accident leading to his death), called Sagrada Família. An arcitetural gem, that might serve as inspiration for great stories! It is said that from the age of 10 Zafón could write Gothic tales that kept his friends up all night, much like the author, Julian Carax, in The Shadow of the Wind. Zafón has been living in Los Angeles, USA, since 1993.
His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla(Prince of the mist, 1993), earned him the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He has written several YA novels. Zafóns first adult fiction novel, The Shadow of the Wind, has been given several international awards .
Want more information about Zafón and his writing?
Check out Carlos Ruiz Zafón website.