The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
— The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón PUBLISHED January 25, 2005 Penguin Books GENRE: Adult, Mystery PAGES: 487 FORMAT: PAPERBACK SOURCE: PURCHASED PACING: {5/5}

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

PUBLISHED January 25, 2005 Penguin Books
GENRE: Adult, Mystery
PAGES: 487
FORMAT: PAPERBACK
SOURCE: PURCHASED
PACING: {5/5}

 

This translated book was so completely enthralling!! I absolutely loved it from the first page to the last because the writing is so rich and beautiful. The story takes place in Barcelona and Zafón writes the atmosphere in a way that gives me a visual of the culture and environment during the time period following the Spanish Civil War.  I buddy read this masterpiece with my very good friend Polly @pollyandbooks We both agree that the way in which the narrative is interwoven with constant mystery is what makes this novel a un-put-down-able. Daniel, the main character, embarks on quite the journey to discover the author of The Shadow of the Wind, Julian Carax. He searches for the author's other works as well as the backstory to this book which he chose in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books with his father. This is what makes this book so brilliant and unique. It is a story about a story; a book about a book, The Shadow of the Wind. When I read the synopsis for this book I knew that I wanted to read it especially sense it takes place in Barcelona, but I had know idea that I would be weaving in and out of an incredible tale. There is nothing predictable or cliché in this book. It is a perfectly realized murder mystery.


Synopsis:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.


Daniel's father was a bookseller at the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He instills in Daniel, a very fragile 10 year boy dealing with the loss of his mother, that the books within this complex library wait to be chosen by its reader and that once chosen the story is given new life through the one reading it. Daniel was such a well developed character. From childhood, through young adulthood, Daniel was obsessed with finding more novels written by Julian Carax. What I also liked about Daniel was the way in which Zafón wrote his relationship with women and how each relationship defined a different time in Daniel's life and ultimately added even more depth to the story in which he finds himself. 

Daniel begins to discover the truth behind Carax's "whereabouts" and why no copies of any of his work can be found anywhere through a web of people somehow connected to Carax.  Enter Nuria Monfort, a caretaker, whom Daniel encounters that provides him with her own account of Carax but fails to admit that she was actually Carax's lover.

In the latter part of the story a lover letter written by Nuria details another one of Carax's affairs with a young woman named Penelope. Penelope's father took Carax under his wing because he thought of Carax like his own son. However, while living with him, Carax and Penelope fall in love with plans to runaway to Paris. Once Penelope's father catches wind of this, Carax flees to Paris alone and unknowingly leaves a pregnant Penelope behind. Her father tortures her, locks her in a room and leaves her to perish while giving birth. The twist is that Julian and Penelope actually turn out to be half sister and brother because Penelope's dad, plagued with psychological instability, once had an affair with Carax's mom. This is one of the many crazy twists in this story.

People tend to complicate their own lives, as if living weren’t already complicated enough

 

This story is like a Matryoshka doll where there are layers within layers; stories within stories. Zafón effortlessly writes Daniel's journey to the truth as his own life begins to mirror Carax's in love and enemies. Daniel's relationship with Bea, the sister of his enemy turned friend, is very much a reflection of the way Carax's relationship was with Penelope and in both cases it's because of this  constant strain; the ever present tale of 'shadows'. In certain parts of this story the cloud of doom that hangs over these characters seems almost ghost like. They are strange figures, but I think Zafón wrote the shadows metaphorically to highlight the mystery of such deplorable behavior from these characters; their secrecy.


Daniel's sidekick, Fermín, was another character I was quite fond of because he helped Daniel on this mysterious journey of discovery.  He was smart and smitten with a maidservant. Although he was reduced to a beggar I loved his wisdom, honesty and relationship with Daniel. He was trustworthy. The tone of this story was incredibly tangible; Daniel's growth, his relationships, the mystery of Carax. The Shadow of the Wind is a brilliant literary work and has now taken its place as one of my faves.

My rating: {5/5}