The Shadow of the Wind is an incredibly engaging ode to literature, a book within a book which takes you on a riveting and poetic adventure filled with mystery, romance, action and humour, all at the same time.
What is it about?
Written by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Záfon, this book takes place in post-civil war Barcelona. At the beginning of the book, our young protagonist, Daniel Sempere, is taken by his father to the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books”, a secret library where he is allowed to choose one book and take it home. In this huge labyrinth of a library, he ends up choosing The Shadow of the Wind, written by a mysterious author called Julián Carax.
Little did he know that his life would be forever changed by this choice, as he starts, with his friend Fermín, to unravel the mysteries around this writer and his books, finding that he is not the only one who is looking for them, and unravelling mysteries that some would have preferred to keep secret.
While the story of Carax unfolds as we turn the pages, through shocking twists and enthralling action scenes, we are also taken through Daniel’s life journey through friendships and his first experiences with love, as he gets more and more entangled in the mysteries that surround the life of Julián Carax.
As I don’t want to reveal too much and spoil this book for you, I will leave it here for the summary, hoping that this sparked enough interest in you to discover this captivating novel.
To say that this book was one of the best I’ve read in the past years is really not an understatement. There are many reasons for this that I will try to explain in here, but let’s start by saying that you will find yourself thinking about the book throughout the day as you are so eager to continue your read and discover all the mysteries that the book holds.
The story is simply captivating and keeps you on your toes from start to finish, thanks to Záfon’s descriptive yet poetic style, which perfectly adapts to every element of the book, from the action scenes to the slower, more romantic ones. It is also what gave this book such an atmospheric feel to it, with an almost dark and gothic influence.
The variety of elements to this story are also something that I particularly liked, even though not all of them were to my liking. I think the author did a great job a balancing out fast-paced scenes with descriptive ones, taking us from love scenes to incredibly suspenseful ones, mixed with Fermín’s funny catch phrases and caricatural reactions which tied everything together with some lightness.
As I said before, one of the things I liked the most about this book is its ability to truly make you travel, taking you to a reconstructing Barcelona, making you laugh or cry in shock because of some unexpected twist. I found that it was an “easy” read, but in the best possible sense to it.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely! Not everyone will necessarily like every element of it, but I think the fact that Záfon’s work is at the least enthralling is undeniable. You will want to turn those pages, and you will want to turn them quickly.
Have you read The Shadow of the Wind? What did you think of it?
Read my other book review:Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: a remarkable novel that transcends boundaries of time, genre and language by telling the story of six interconnected lives.