The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This was another of my impulsive charity bookshop purchases, and I have to say I am getting good at these, and finding some real gems- ‘The Shadow of the Wind‘ being one of them. I know I seem to have a trend with historical fiction set in other countries or cultures, and my ‘to read’ pile does have other genres in it, but now the summer holidays have ended, the rate I’m reading has really slowed so I’m allowing myself to enjoy my little guilty pleasure.

The Shadow of the Wind‘ is set in post-war Barcelona, and focuses on the life of Daniel Sempere, the son of a bookshop owner. For his 11th birthday, he is taken to the secretive Cemetery of Forgotten Books where he chooses the ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax from among the lost and forgotten books treasured away there. He is totally engrossed by it and becomes obsessed with finding more out about the mysterious author. In doing so, he comes across tales of the sinister Laín Coubert who is on a mission to destroy all of Carax’s books, who is actually the name of the devil character in Carax’s book to make things even more mysterious and almost certainly troublesome for Daniel.

After a slightly odd few chapters on his childhood and love for Clara, the much older girl who tells him more about Carax and his mysteries, the teenage Daniel and his rather eccentric yet lovable friend Fermin Romero de Torres (a former government spy on the run from the sadistic Inspector Fumero) try to track down Julian and instead discover his troubled childhood, the doomed love between him and Penelope from 1919, and the tangled web of loyalty and hatred he left behind- wherein lies the answer to Daniels questions. I won’t give the plot away as there are some fantastic twists and a really heart-warming story not only between Julian and Penelope but one of Daniel’s own.

I really enjoyed this book- yes it was historical fiction but for a lot of it, you wouldn’t notice and although the actions of the past during the war are relevant it still feels like a normal, exciting mystery/love story tale (sorry for the vague-ness of the genre, but that really is the best description I can think of!) It’s about growing up, and love and friendship, and best of all it’s a book about books! I think the quote to the left sums it up pretty well. There are sequels to this based on Daniel’s character, and while I did love Zafón’s style of writing and the tale itself, I’m not sure I want to read them for a while, if at all. I’m always wary of sequels, and I think I need a break of something else before coming back.


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