Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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1232Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Series: #1 in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series

Paperback: 487 pages

Publisher: Penguin Books (February 1, 2005)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0143034901

ISBN-13: 978-0143034902

Amazon // Goodreads // TSOTW Soundtrack // TSOTW Tour of Barcelona

Book 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.

My Thoughts:

Warning: The following cannot be classified as a review because nothing I could write would do this book justice.  Instead, it will be me ranting about the greatness that is this book.   You have been warned…

The Shadow of the Wind is what I like to call a “bookish delight.” What could be more delightful to a bookworm than a book about books?  The concept of a Cemetery of Forgotten Books?!?  Brilliant!  Sign me up to be the next keeper of the cemetery!

Carlos Ruiz Zafón was able to capture the essence of what it is to be a book lover.  Books are portrayed almost as if they are living things.

“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary.  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 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.”

I could have written down a quote from every page.  Seriously.  Every page was pure gold.  Zafón’s writing gave me chills it was so good.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

The Shadow of the Wind

The Setting 

TSOTW spans about 11 years, from 1945 through 1956.  The story takes place in Barcelona, Spain.  Since I visited Barcelona back in 2005, it was very easy for me to imagine the setting.  Plaza Real, the location of Gustavo & Clara’s apartment and where Daniel meets Fermín…I’ve been there! The Statue of Columbus, where Daniel first meets the sinister Laín Coubert… I’ve seen it!  Barcelona was the perfect setting for this eerie and mysterious novel with its gothic style architecture.  If you ever get the chance to visit Barcelona, make sure to take The Shadow of the Wind Tour!

The Plot

This is historical mystery meets gothic novel, so I would consider this a “historical gothic mystery”… is that a genre? I would not classify this book as an “easy read” by any means.  With numerous characters and a complex plot, you definitely need to keep your wits about you while reading this book.  HOWEVER if developed and complex plots do not intimidate you, then you need to give this book a go!  You will be greatly rewarded.  At the core, this book is  a mystery.  There are twists around every corner.  TSOTW is the story of a young man named Daniel, who stumbles upon a book by the mysterious author, Julian Carax.   Daniel learns that Julian Carax’s books are not easy to come by since a sinister figure has been searching the world for Carax’s books and BURNING them! The HORROR!!  What kind of monster would do such a thing?  As Daniel dives deeper into the life of Julian, all hell breaks loose… Daniel’s life will never be the same. This book kept me guessing the very end.  As soon as I would construct a theory, Zafón would throw me for a loop. I could not read this book quick enough.

The Characters

The characters! Do you like eccentric characters?  How about characters that are interesting and dynamic?  Zafón gives us these types of characters in TSOTW.  Our main character, Daniel, grows up before our eyes.  I was emotionally attached to him, so it was easy to root for him.  Fermín was by far my favorite character in the book.  I found myself laughing aloud on many occasions at his antics.  I adored the friendship between Daniel and Fermín, and thoroughly enjoyed the playful and witty banter between them. Their fierce loyalty to one another was touching, and made for a beautiful “bromance.”  The antagonist was also well developed and very believable.  The type of antagonist that you love to hate.

The Writing:

Zafón is a literary genius.  The end.

Bottom Line: This “historical gothic mystery” will blow your mind!  If you enjoy mysteries with a gripping plot, beautiful writing, and captivating characters, then this book is for you!

 Noteworthy Quotes:

“I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”

“This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary.  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 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.”

“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

“Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.”

“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”

Book recommendations if you enjoyed TSOTW:

» The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

» The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

» Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

» East of Eden by John Steinbeck

 My Rating:

Star ratings (2)

All the stars!!!

 About the Author:

Carlos Ruiz ZafonCarlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind, and The Angel’s Game. His work has been published in more than forty different languages, and honored with numerous international awards. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.



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22 thoughts on “Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon”

  1. Love your review! This fast became my favourite book when I discovered it a few years ago and I’ve read it every year since. So hauntingly beautiful! Glad you enjoyed it too 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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