The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

shadow of the windThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2001; translation: 2004 by Lucia Graves), 487 pages

The Shadow of the Wind opens in 1945 as 10-year-old Daniel Sempere, son of a Barcelona bookseller, visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time (on the morning of the day he awakes having forgotten what his departed mother looked like). Sempere is allowed to take one book home with him, agreeing to take responsibility for the book being remembered. The book he chooses, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, keeps him spellbound. When he learns that Carax grew up in Barcelona and that all other known copies of the book (all books by Carax, for that matter) have been burned by a mysterious figure, his interest in the story only grows. But as Sempere digs, the questions only grow more numerous.

This book was recommended to me by a reading friend, years ago. I had it waiting in my TBR pile for just a couple months, but moved it way up when I received an advance copy of Ruiz Zafón’s The Angel’s Game (a prequel to Shadow of the Wind, due out June 16, 2009).

Burning question: How come no one told me this was a book within a book story? I trusted my friend’s recommendation, but I think I might have been more urgent in my pursuit of this volume if I’d known that it’s a story within a story within a story.

I was hooked from the first paragraph.

The writing is beautiful. Probably not the most beautiful language I’ve ever read, but lovely indeed. It begs to be read slowly. The Barcelona setting really shines. I want to visit.

I would call this a gothic novel, but it’s not as dark as I would expect gothic novels to be. It’s definitely literary fiction. It reminds me, at least in some ways, to the movie Pan’s Labyrinth (use of imagery, perhaps?). I appreciated that the author doesn’t spoon feed the reader. He assumes a certain level of intelligence (or attention to detail, in this case), which only makes it better.

A grand, sweeping tale, beautifully told. I loved this book.

Other reviews:
A Dribble of Ink
Fyrefly’s Book Blog
Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews
Jen’s Book Thoughts
Books and So Many More Books
The Biblio Brat

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21 responses to “The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

  1. I’ve had several people recommend this book to me, but this is the first time I’ve read what it’s about. It sounds wonderful!

  2. Such a fantastic book. I loved it so much I’ve read it twice already. I just finished The Angel’s Game last week and loved it too. Your review makes me want to go back and reread Shadow of the Wind now. 🙂

  3. I’ve read Shadow of the Wind twice (pre-blogging days)–and I rarely re-read– and cannot wait to read Angel’s Game. Glad you enjoyed this book!

  4. I am sooo jealous of everyone who has read his new one!!

    Glad you liked the book. It remains one of my favorites. You did a much better job describing the book than I did as I was too caught up in the afterglow to do a decent write up.

    I’m thinking I need to re-read it when I get Angel’s Game and do a much better job on both.

    Thanks for a wonderful review.

  5. I haven’t read this yet but it’s been sitting on my shelves for months now. I’m moving it up the pile. Great review.

  6. I only heard of this recently but really want to read it…since it passed your test of approval I feel I must 😉

  7. I have this book and so want to read it! I love gothic novels and your comparison to Pan’s Labyrinth is a huge selling point to me. I have his novel The Angel’s Game from the LibraryThing Early Readers program coming up really soon, too. It’s nice to find great new authors out there. Thanks for the review!

  8. This has been on my list for a long time. One of these days . . .

    In the meantime, I keep hearing more reviews that make me want to move it up the list.

    Great review. Thanks!

  9. This is one of those books that I keep meaning to read, everyone has such good things to say about it. Must read it soon. Thanks for the review!

  10. I really do recommend this book. It’s grand.

    @ Biblio Brat: I totally understand what you mean by basking in the afterglow of this book.

    I rarely reread, either, but I can definitely see this one having potential as a reread.

    Angel’s Game will definitely not be lingering on my shelf much longer (I just wanted to read this one first)!

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