Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

About the book 
The Shadow of the Wind is the first book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was first published in 2001 and the book is 528 pages long. 

Barcelona, 1945-just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiralling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly. 

What I thought 
The Shadow of the Wind is one of my boyfriend's favourite books - he likes it so much that he has multiple copies of it. As he loves it so much, I was curious to know why so he got me my own copy and I began to read it straight away. 

It didn't take long for this book to take a hold of me and not let go. The opening to this story is completely magical and mysterious and I loved each word that I was reading. As a young boy, main character Daniel is taken to Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father. This is a place for forgotten books of the world just waiting for someone to care for them again and the idea of this is what initially got me hooked. If it's possible, I felt sorry for all of the books in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and wanted to go and get them all new homes. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books itself was a bit like a dream to me but somewhere I would have definitely wanted to be able to visit myself. What young Daniel doesn't know at the time of picking his one book here, is that he has just determined the rest of his life with this choice. 

As a young boy, Daniel was extremely naive and didn't know much about the world at all but I liked that about him. He had a very sweet innocence about him and it made me look forward to finding out how he would eventually grow up and what kind of a man he would turn in to. As the story begins to unfold, we get to learn of the book Daniel picked, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. The book itself brings Daniel instant problems as he is confronted by a strange man seemingly willing to do anything to get his hands on this particular book. The character in question here was extremely creepy and you could just tell that you didn't want him to turn up again. At this point, it was so clear just how young Daniel was because of his actions but he also stuck to what he believed in and I respected him for that. 

Finding out more about why this book was so important was what I was desperate for. The Shadow of the Wind not only explores the life of Daniel and what he goes through, the relationships he forms and things he experiences but it also has flashbacks from other characters. As well as following Daniel's life in Barcelona, we follow the mysterious life of author Carax, trying to figure out if he is even alive or where he could possibly be. I really enjoyed how both worlds were intertwined, which was partly helped by Daniel's constant need to know more about the book and the author. His passion for the subject shone through and so did his determination. Due to his mission of finding out more about Carax, Daniel changes as a character. He meets many interesting characters along the way, each of which have some kind of impact on his life and the way he views things. The way that these people could have such a big impression on Daniel quite impressed me because it wasn't as though any of them were anything spectacular. 

A slight problem with these other characters is that there are so many of them and if you're not careful, you could lose sight of who is who and what they are doing. If you picked up this book and put it down again for some time, you would quite easily forget everything you have previously read. That aside, some of these characters were more entertaining and special than both Daniel and Carax. One of my favourites was Fermin Romero De Torres, a beggar that Daniel meets on the street one day. He soon becomes quite a big role in Daniel and Carax's story but he also brings in some much needed humour. As a bit of a broken man, Fermin is not quite all there which is why he is so funny. He comes out with all kinds of strange things that don't always make sense but this is what makes him so different compared with everyone else in this book. 

When it comes to the plot, it was not quite what I was expecting, although I'm not sure what that was either really. This book was a complete surprise for me, a big part of that is due to it being an adult book. I have spent so long reading YA that this is completely different from my normal read but I loved it completely. The plot is complicated, as I'm sure you could guess from the amount of characters, but it never gets too confusing. Each different thing is kind of put into its own little section then forgotten about again once you find out everything that you need to know. This makes the pacing quite strange and not extremely fast but it does make for a very interesting read. Shadow of the Wind is not only a mystery though and I found myself feeling all kinds of emotions while I read it. I felt love, excitement, anger and I also cried at one point when I didn't think that this was that kind of book. 

I can now see why my boyfriend loves this book so much and now I will treasure my own copy.



  1. I read this book a couple of years ago and absolutely loved it! Great review :D

  2. I've had this book on my shelves unread for YEARS. I really should get around to reading it!