Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1
Genres: Gothic, Historical, Mystery
Publisher: The Penguin Press (Imprint of Penguin)
Date Published: April 12th, 2004
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.
The Shadow of the Wind is a treasure chest of mystery and adventure with a moody, almost Gothic, underscore to it. It takes place in Barcelona during the years of approximately 1945-1955 where it follows a boy named Daniel who comes to possess a book cloaked in mystery because every copy of books by the author have been purchased or stolen by a mysterious figure and then immediately burned afterwards. Daniel holds one of a handful of books remaining by the author and he’s determined to find out who would be doing such a thing.
This book was originally written in Spanish and translated to English by Lucia Graves, but honestly you wouldn’t know it because it’s written so beautifully — it’s honestly one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. While sometimes it can seem a little long-winded, for the most part it’s the type of book that you can easily get lost in or simply savor over a period of days. I don’t know Spanish so I haven’t read the original but as far as the English translation goes I think it’s safe to say that a kudos goes out to both Zafón for the original and Graves for her eloquent translation.
I don’t want to talk too much about the story because it is a mystery and part of the fun of this book is unraveling that with Daniel along the way. But it’s safe to say that it is woven very well and although I was constantly guessing throughout the entire book and therefore stumbled upon at least a portion of the answer to the mystery, it was still written very well and I didn’t guess the entire thing but was able to piece together some of it. But I liked that we were given clues though and allowed to try to solve the mystery along with Daniel; a lot of mysteries don’t let you do that so I liked it.
The only issues I had were a couple of formatting issues. Mainly when a story was being told by someone that was a flashback the text was normally italicized, but then there were other times that it wasn’t and that made it kind of confusing so some consistency was needed there. The other issue I had was that during these flashbacks normally a single person was telling the story to Daniel and they would get into POVs that weren’t their own and therefore talk about emotions and feelings and even events that they themselves didn’t witness. Basically it would be told as if they were a third person looking down on the situation when really they only have their own POV as a character. I thought this was kind of a hole in these flashbacks because it really wouldn’t be possible for one character to know intimate details about how another character felt or what they did.
Other than those couple things though this book was an incredible escape that I know I’ll want to come back to another day. If you’re a fan of books (which I know you all are) and mystery then you will most likely love this book. My advice is to read it at night or on a stormy afternoon for the ideal mood setting.