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Reviews of Shadow of the Wind, the (2001)

Review by valer19 (2007-01-27)
"The Shadow of the wind" is one of the best books I've ever read(and I've read enough, believe me). A great plot, beautiful language, well-developped characters, fine sense of humour,combination of different genres (thriller,gothic novel,love story,mystery,detective)-all this makes this novel outstanding."The shadow of the Wind" reminded me the best works of Arturo Pérez-Reverte,especially his "El club Dumas"(its "book-hunting" in many ways very similar to Daniel's search of truth behind Carax's mysterious life),but to my mind Carlos Ruiz Zafón in many ways surpasses Reverte...It's not often that you can find such a "tasty" book, as that.I recommend it to all those who haven't read it yet.Take it and you will never regret it.A great read!...Hope to hear about Zafón's next work soon...

Review by valin (2006-10-31)
When Daniel discovers The Shadow of the Wind, an old, seemingly abandoned book in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, he feels an instant connection to the book and its author, the mysterious Julián Carax. But when Daniel tries to find out about the author's other works, he discovers that all the other books the author has written have been burned by a mysterious man called Lain Coubert. Daniel may possess the only book by Carax that has not been burned. It is up to Daniel to resurrect Julián Caraz from the past and to right the wrongs laid down before his time. With beautiful language and memorable characters (especially Fermín Romero de Torres) this book should be read by anyone who loves a good story and wants to remember the power the first book we loved had over us.

Review by tempest_gypsy (2006-10-21)
"Shadow of the Wind" started out so promising. The thought of a cemetery of lost and forgotten books, as being discovered and adored by a ten year old boy filled me with excitement (and envy!) I could understand Daniel Sempere's search for more information, or books by the mysterious author he discovered there, Julian Carrax. I was excited about what looked like a bibliophile's version of "The DaVinci Code" and couldn't wait to follow the trail as Daniel searched for traces of the elusive Carrax.
Alas, I was to be mostly disappointed.
We seemed to shift suddenly from a tale of Daniel's search and his warm relationship with his father to the story of his first, obsessive, painful love, Carrax forgotten. Eventually the story becomes more and more melodramatic, and loses it's original concept in an unexplained push to create as much suffering for the characters as possible. What seems like the foundation of the tale begins to warp in impossible ways to make Daniel's life begin to mirror Carrax's, for no reason this reader can discern. The ending resembles the unresolved endings of gothic horror novels and the surprise 'twist' was visible from a mile away.
The redeeming quality of the book, and indeed, the only reason I kept reading, was the quality of the secondary characters. With the exception of Firmin Romero de Torres, spy turned beggar, turned assistant bookseller, all the main character were very flat. Firmin was absolutely outrageous, but still believable as a real person, and possessed real wisdom, frequently dispensed in the most bawdy ways. But, Zafon really shines in his portraits of the secondary, throw-away characters. Everyone from taxi drivers to waiters to beggars has concrete characterizations, stay true to their characters as established, and are discernible from all the other secondary characters. Zafon writes people remarkably well, when he doesn't try hard.
Despite it's complexity, I felt to book lacked depth and a unifying theme. I like stories that take unexpected turns, surprise twists and well written endings. But, as a book, not a story "Shadow of the Wind" took blind corners and left me wondering if I was even reading the same book, sometimes from chapter to chapter. I don't know if the author intended his sudden changes in tone and theme, or if it was a result of the translation process from Spanish, but it just left me flat.

Review by mojosmom (2004-06-01)
The first sentence hooked me: "I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time."

"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 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 . . . When a library disappears, or a book-shop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here. In this place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader's hands. In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody's best friend. Now they have only us . . ."

We are in Barcelona, 1945, and 10-year-old Daniel Sampere has just chosen a book to protect, one that will have special meaning for him. It is The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax, and once Daniel reads it, he will begin a search for Carax's other work. But he will discover that someone else is also engaged in that search, and is systematically destroying every copy of Carax's books that can be found.

As the years pass, Daniel's life begins to parallel Carax's and intertwine with it, as he unravels a mystery that reaches back to the days before and during the Spanish Civil War, and finds love, friendship and betrayal.

A tightly-woven and intricate plot, realistic and psychologically complex characters, beautiful language, romance, passion, and mystery all add up to a book that is difficult to put down.

Here's hoping that more of Zafón's work gets translated into English.

©Steven Jeffery /, 2017
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