Sunday, June 16, 2013
The Shadow of the Wind
Synopsis: Within the dark city walls of Barcelona 1945, a young boy and his mourning antiquarian book seller father visit a secret book cemetery. Daniel finds his first book, a mystery called "The Shadow of the Wind" by an obscure author named Julian Carax. Becoming obsessed with the novel, he tries to find out more about the author only to learn that all the copies of his books have been mysteriously burned and that he may have the very last copy in existence. Soon it is apparent that his innocent quest has brought one of Barcelona's darkest kept secrets into the light exposing bringing forth a story filled with madness, murder, and forbidden love.
Review: This was a book I picked up several times and put back down before buying. It was an author I had not read before, but there was something about the title and the cover art that was intriguing. The review blurb on the inside cover by Stephen King was the clincher for me and I bought it. Once I started reading it, it was apparent why it got such amazing reviews. I couldn't put it down. Even if I knew I only had 2 minutes of time, I would pull the book out of my bag and read until that very last second of free time.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon was an outstanding storyteller and I am definitely going to read his other novels. He was masterful at weaving a story through the eyes of a young boy whose life mirrors the mysterious author Julian Carax's life. You found yourself wondering if Daniel will take the same road traveled that led Julian to disappear into the shadows of Barcelona or if he will somehow be able to break free of this self torment and keep history from repeating again.
What was so great about this book was that it read like a cinematic noir novel of the time of Alexander Dumas. Exquisite details filled the pages and I felt like I was actually in Barcelona during the 1940's. I was breathing the air, tasting the food, seeing the smoky cobble streets, and feeling the same intense desires to find answers to an old mystery. The plot was expertly constructed with the climax in just the right place and followed a pace that kept me wanting to read it all in one night if I could. All the characters I felt like I knew them and had a clear picture of what they looked like. Just absolutely breathtaking as it's stories unfolded before my eyes.
If I was to criticize anything about this book, it would be that the translation of the novel from Spanish into English didn't always happen smoothly leaving some words in the wrong grammatical order. However, that happened so rarely that it did not take me out of the story or kept it from being enjoyable.
I would definitely recommend reading this book if you like noir, mystery fiction. It is an amazing read. There really isn't anything else I can say, but an absolutely amazing read.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I bought this book at a local bookstore; I was not asked to do a review on this book.