Book Reviews

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

shadow of the windThe Shadow of the Wind by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon (BOOK ZONE 823.91) is a haunting international best-seller with a thrilling, noir-style mystery at its heart. When young Daniel Sempere is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and comes away with the last surviving copy of The Shadow of the Wind, little does he know that this mysterious book will bring a shadowy figure and a terrible secret to his door.

The Shadow of the Wind has a reputation for bringing misfortune to all who own it, but Daniel is determined to discover the truth about its enigmatic author, Julian Carax. From there, he unearths a decades-old conspiracy filled with war, murder and corruption, all the time pursued by the shadowy and violent figure of Lain Coubert.

gothic quarter

Carlos Ruiz Zafon weaves the stories of Daniel and Julian together as their lives find strange parallels, all against the crumbling grandeur of post-Civil War Barcelona. We only learn of Julian Carax’s life second-hand, through Daniel’s discoveries and the accounts of people who knew him, but even so he becomes a compelling and likeable character. Daniel’s desire to become a writer mirrors Julian Carax’s own career and his budding romance with Beatriz Aguilar begins to take on a darker meaning as we slowly discover the tragic romance Julian Carax had with a woman called Penelope. By the end the reader is hoping that history will not repeat itself.

Daniel and Julian’s stories are about the dangerous obsessions that can colour people’s lives and make them forget what is truly important. More than that, however, The Shadow of the Wind is about the impact a book can have on people’s lives and the imaginary bond that can form between the reader and the writer as they discover the biographical details hidden in fiction.

With an array of compelling characters whose lives Carax touched (often without him realising how much he affected them), Carlos Ruiz Zafon writes a moving story about creativity, fiction and relationships.

If you liked The Shadow of the Wind

Try The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (NORFOLK HOUSE 823.92), another novel about the impact of books on personal relationships and the concept of lives and fiction intertwining. We have reviewed it here:

Learn more about the city of Julian Carax, Lain Coubert and The Shadow of the Wind in the Rough Guide to Barcelona (BOOK ZONE 914.67204).

Read up on the Spanish Civil War, which is the backdrop for the events of The Shadow of the Wind. Get an introduction from A Concise History of the Spanish Civil War by Paul Preston (BOOK ZONE 946.081) and read George Orwell’s personal account Homage to Catalonia (written more than ten years before his most famous work, 1984) in the BOOK ZONE at 946.081092.


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