Jumping out of the YA pile for a week, let’s look today at The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. This was a book my grandmother gave to me, so of course, I assumed it would be good. My grandmother has excellent taste and she worked at a bookstore called The Book Bin, for a while, so she’s seen a lot of books. But when I eventually got around to reading Shadow of the Wind did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.
The Plot: 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.
Characters: There are honestly too many amazing characters to count in this book. They’re all very life like and real and oftentimes funny. I love Fermin for his lust for life layered over a tragic past. Lain Coubert gives me chills up my spine. Julián Carax' past is layered in a well told mystery. Most importantly, the main character Daniel is very likable. He doesn’t always do likable things, but you understand him. He isn’t the most interesting character in the room but he reacts well off his more intriguing counterparts. This is a huge cast, and their arcs are woven through the plot with expert ease.
The Good Points: I’ve talked plenty about the characters but the real strength in this book lies in two things. First off, the plot. This is a bit of a mystery story as Daniel is investigating the life of Julian Carax while trying to figure out who is burning all of his books and why. The past and present fit together like perfect puzzle pieces. Its hard to pull off a story that jumps between time periods but this book is never slow, nor is it confusing. The ending, as well, is absolutely nail biting and wonderful.
But the greatest strength of the book is the prose. The prose are just the most gorgeous thing. You feel the weight and beauty of Barcelona in every word. The atmosphere of this book just envelopes you. And there are too many beautiful lines to count. Go through this book with a high lighter. To me this book is the prose equivalent of melted milk chocolate. The entire plot could be rubbish and I wouldn’t even care. It’s just so pretty. Luckily the plot isn’t rubbish, so this makes The Shadow of the Wind an exciting and gorgeous journey.
The Bad Points: Lol, what bad points. I might say that the book is long and might be slow in parts for some people but I loved it, so that’s hardly a criticism from me. Go read this book.
The Shadow of the Wind has taken its place as one of my favorite books of all time. It reads like a classic, and perhaps it will go down in history as one. If you’re in the mood for some literary historical fiction, pick this one up today. You won’t be disappointed.
Final Rating: 5/5 stars