I first read this novel a couple years ago on the emphatic suggestion of a worker at the local Chapters. I gave it 4/5 stars initially. I managed to snag a used copy of another Carlos Ruiz Zafón novel and decided I would re-read The Shadow of the Wind before starting this next novel.
Upon completion, I have decided to bump the rating up to 5/5, because I finished it with no complaint and I would not have changed anything about the novel. Although I had read it once, I couldn’t put it down…again.
The novel is a story within a story. Daniel Sempere, our young protagonist, finds a novel called “The Shadow of the Wind” by a Julian Carax within a book cemetery, deep in the heart of war torn Barcelona. I have read very few books on the civil war within the Spanish borders and the ensuing chaos, so it was refreshing to read about a period of history in a country other than the usual England/France/etc.
It becomes clear to Daniel that there is something strange about the author and his novels. He discovers that someone has been systematically finding and destroying all of Carax’ novels with fire.
The story is complex but easy to read. It would be impossible for me to explain the novel in a book review; I would not do it justice. Suffice to say, the novel is well written. The characters grasp you and the dialogue is not stilted or boring. Even though the story is fantastical, it never struck me as reaching. There are many twists and turns that will leave you guessing and wondering, right up until the last chapter.
My favourite quote in the book was as follows:
Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside of us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.
Honestly, from that quote itself, doesn’t the book sound magical?
5/5 for one of my favourite books. I cannot wait to read his next novel!