By Carlos Ruiz Zafón; translated by Lucia Graves
Place: Publisher & Year: New York: Penguin Books, c2001, 2004, 2005
Genres: General fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, suspense
Intended audience: Adult
Number of pages: 487
Setting: Barcelona, Spain
Time period: 1945-1966 (although some events occur prior to 1945)
Plot summary: As a boy, Daniel Sempere, finds a copy of The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax and immediately becomes engrossed in the story. When he tries to find other works by Carax, he discovers that someone has been mysteriously buying all of Carax’s books and then setting fire to them. It is possible that Daniel holds the last known copy of a Carax book. As Daniel grows older, the mystery of Carax gnaws at Daniel until he begins his own investigation of Carax. As Daniel dives deeper into the past, he discovers many horrors of love and war intertwined with Carax’s fate. Daniel continues his quest, until the past slams fully into the present and Daniel’s own life is in danger from the knowledge of Carax and his life.
Pacing: Somewhat erratic – moves rapidly in some parts, more slowly in others. In general, the parts of the story which took place in the past, moved more slowly and the pacing increased as the story progressed. The last quarter of the book read like a thriller.
Characterization: Most of the story is told in first person through Daniel; there are large segments of backstory which are told either through letters or summarized third person narratives following conversations with individuals. There are many characters to keep track of in this story.
Frame: Dark, hazy, mysterious; gothic
Story line: An intriguing story which blends aspects of mystery, romance, and horror while celebrating bibliophiles and books.
Young men — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Antiquarian booksellers — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Mothers and sons — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Widowers — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Books — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Rare books — Spain — Barcelona — Fiction.
Barcelona (Spain) — Fiction.
Geraldine Brooks – People of the Book: a novel
Ildefonso Falcones – Cathedral of the Sea
Arturo Pérez-Reverte – The Club Dumas
Diane Setterfield – The Thirteenth Tale: a novel
Markus Zusak – The Book Thief
Personal notes: This book took me a long time to get through. Not because it wasn’t good. It’s a very good book and I enjoyed it greatly. But I started it while traveling and then had some changes in life which made it harder for me to read for longer periods of time. I also found on one occasion that I had spent too much time away from the story and had forgotten much of what I had read last – so I had to reread a portion of the book. When I finally did finish this book, I really enjoyed how the story came full circle at the end.
Other (diversity, themes, websites): Diversity – motherless boy, single parent, blind woman, victim of war crimes, sadist police officer, Barcelonans, Spanish, French woman
Originally published in Spanish as La Sombra del Viento by Editorial Planeta, S.A., Barcelona.