Shadow of the Wind

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

ISBN: 9780143034902

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.

Appeal factors:

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.

Subject headings:

From Pima County Public Library:

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.

Similar works:

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

Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s website

Originally published in Spanish as La Sombra del Viento by Editorial Planeta, S.A., Barcelona.

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2 thoughts on “Shadow of the Wind

  1. webdesin says:

    Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write in my site something like that. Can I take part of your
    post to my blog?

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