IN THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
By Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published by: Penguin Group (USA), Inc. / 175 Hudson Street / New York, NY / 10014
First Printing: 2001, translated from Spanish 2004
Concept: “Ruiz Zafón's novel, a bestseller in his native Spain, takes the satanic touches from Angel Heart and stirs them into a bookish intrigue à la Foucault's Pendulum. The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax's novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax's novels. As he grows up, Daniel's fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a "porcelain gaze," Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend's sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide. Officially, Carax's dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax's childhood friend. As Daniel's quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax's begin to emerge. Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone, and no scene goes by without its complement of florid, cute and inexact similes and metaphors (snow is "God's dandruff"; servants obey orders with "the efficiency and submissiveness of a body of well-trained insects"). Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel.”
Review: This book is not a paranormal romance. It’s a book written in classic literature style. It’s fiction, but its scary and rich and dark for certain. Oh don’t get me wrong, there’s romance in it, and there’s a coming of age story and mystery and well, it’s a book about a book. How can it be bad?
It’s Barcelona in 1945, just after the war when we meet Daniele Sempere. His father who is 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 book from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves. He explains that the book that he choses whill have a special meaning only to him. Daniel picks a novel titled “The Shadow of the Wind” and he loves it SO much, that he sets out to find more books by Julian Carax, the author. 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 of Carax’s books 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 liked: The author is brilliant in his style. These words flow like magic. This is a classic style novel and I read it like one. I read every word and thought out every chapter. It was a vey slow read for me, but, as with all classics, one that everyone should take.
What I disliked: I have to take off a half a feather for the awful font that was used in the edition of the book that I read. It was so difficult to read.
My rating: 4.5 feathers