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The Shadow of the Wind Paperback – October 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd ); New Ed edition (October 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753820250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753820254
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,522 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ruiz Zafón's novel, a bestseller in his native Spain, takes the satanic touches from Angel Heart and stirs them into a bookish intrigue à la Foucault's Pendulum. The time is the 1950s; the place, Barcelona. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax's novels. The man calls himself Laín Coubert-the name of the devil in one of Carax's novels. As he grows up, Daniel's fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a "porcelain gaze," Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend's sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide. Officially, Carax's dead body was dumped in an alley in 1936. But discrepancies in this story surface. Meanwhile, Daniel and Fermín are being harried by a sadistic policeman, Carax's childhood friend. As Daniel's quest continues, frightening parallels between his own life and Carax's begin to emerge. Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone, and no scene goes by without its complement of florid, cute and inexact similes and metaphors (snow is "God's dandruff"; servants obey orders with "the efficiency and submissiveness of a body of well-trained insects"). Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Call it the "book book" genre: this international sensation (it has sold in more than 20 countries and been number one on the Spanish best-seller list), newly translated into English, has books and storytelling--and a single, physical book--at its heart. In post-World War II Barcelona, young Daniel is taken by his bookseller father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a massive sanctuary where books are guarded from oblivion. Told to choose one book to protect, he selects The Shadow of the Wind, by Julian Carax. He reads it, loves it, and soon learns it is both very valuable and very much in danger because someone is determinedly burning every copy of every book written by the obscure Carax. To call this book--Zafon's Shadow of the Wind-- old-fashioned is to mean it in the best way. It's big, chock-full of unusual characters, and strong in its sense of place. Daniel's initiation into the mysteries of adulthood is given the same weight as the mystery of the book-burner. And the setting--Spain under Franco--injects an air of sobriety into some plot elements that might otherwise seem soap operatic. Part detective story, part boy's adventure, part romance, fantasy, and gothic horror, the intricate plot is urged on by extravagant foreshadowing and nail-nibbling tension. This is rich, lavish storytelling, very much in the tradition of Ross King's Ex Libris (2001). Keir Graff
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is the author of six novels, including the international phenomenon The Shadow of the Wind. His work has been published in more than forty different languages, and honored with numerous international awards, including the Edebé Award, Spain's most prestigious prize for young adult fiction. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California.

Customer Reviews

The character development, plot lines, and overall story kept me guessing till the end.
K. Lewis
I finished half the book in one sitting, and I really wanted to read the last chapter to find out how things ended.
Najla Alowais
A twisted, complicated story with excellent character development and I found it to be very well written.
Wendyll W Caisse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

420 of 460 people found the following review helpful By Edward W. Jawer on May 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The enthusiastic praise and adulation which critics have accorded the english publication of Carlo Ruiz Zafon's first novel, "The Shadow of the Wind", may trouble the reader who begins the book, worried that little might match his expectations. After all, reviewers who compare a writer's work to a combination of Umberto Eco, or Jorge Luis Borges, or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or other literary giants, compel the reader to expect to be transported when they open the book.
Not to worry.
Once started, the single downside for the reader will be knowing that the experience must end. The plot is quite complex, the jacket cover's synopsis will give the reader all he needs to know. The important thing is to read it slowly and carefully.
A mystery story, a fairy tale, a love story (actually several love stories), a passion for literature, a treatise on politics, a bawdy tale, with love, hate, courage, intrigue, loss of innocence, humor, cowardice, villainy, cruelty, compassion, regret, murder, incest, redemption, and more. Add to this delicious mixture characters who come alive, and whose thoughts and feelings you will feel deeply.
What a great pleasure to discover; an extraordinary first work, one which towers over the endless and repetative volumes which inhabit today's "Best Seller" lists. Read it, and become hypnotized.
Edward Jawer
Wyncote, Pa.
ejawer@comcast.net
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151 of 170 people found the following review helpful By A. L. Spieckerman on July 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Zafón's storytelling skill is quite remarkable, his prose doesn't just take you into the story, it completely transports you. In only a few sentances. Zafón crafts a world of remarkable visions and events--just a little bit magical (as all the best stories really are) but grounded in characters who live, breathe, and merrily cavort off the page and into your heart.

But Zafón isn't just a strong storyteller with an exact sense of prose (and my compliments to the excellent translation!), Shadow of the Wind connects to people, it's almost a watershed. It's been a long time since I've been so excited about a book. I tell -everyone- to read it: best friends, my mom, relatives, people I work with--they're all hearing raves from me. And I don't do that lightly, but this book is joyous and sad, heartfelt and even wise.

But most important of all is that Shadow of the Wind is true. It's one of those rare books where you don't just hear 'their' story, it becomes your story as well. To loosely quote Caráx, "it holds up a mirror and a window to your soul," because it teaches us about who we are--about the communities that bind and define you.

And every single moment Fermín Romero de Torres was 'on screen' I had the biggest grins on my face, truly one of the great characters of literature.

I've not a single criticism or reservation about this book, and that puts Zafón on an extremely short list with Mark Twain, Frank Herbert and Orson Scott Card.
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299 of 346 people found the following review helpful By Steve Koss VINE VOICE on March 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
That it's so tempting to read SHADOW OF THE WIND is a tribute to clever marketing. Comparisons to Marquez, Borges, and Dickens mix with gushing tributes from Stephen King and references to best-sellerdom in Spain. The literary come-on is hard to resist.

In the end however, the way you respond to this book will depend on what expectations you bring to it. If you anticipate a reading experience worthy of those heady literary comparisons, you'll be sorely disappointed - Zafon is little closer to Garcia Marquez than Stephen King is. The closest he comes is having the temerity to give a minor character, a boyfriend of Beatriz Aguilar's, the family name Buendia, the prolific clan from ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE. If you plan, however, on a fantastical romp through a mid-century Barcelona converted wholesale into a gothic swamp of ghosts, shadows, haunted houses, malevolent, revenge-seeking, jilted lovers, swooning virginal maidens, improbably picaresque characters, unbelievable coincidences, parallelisms, and twists of fate, and a host of pseudo-Freudian relationships, you'll love every minute.

The story line of SHADOW OF THE WIND is so complex and convoluted, it's nearly impossible to relate in less space than the book's own 487 pages. Suffice to say, the premise is drawn from the search of a teenaged boy named Daniel for the truth about the fate of Julian Carax, the author of a mystery story (also named "Shadow of the Wind") that Daniel has adopted and read after his bibliophilic father takes him on a "coming of age" excursion to the aptly metaphorical Cemetary of Forgotten Books. Carax has apparently written a number of other books, all of them commercial failures, yet someone has been traveling Europe to find and burn every extant copy of Carax's works.
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342 of 399 people found the following review helpful By Jana L. Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Reading "The Shadow Of The Wind" was both a delight and a disappointment. This novel had the potential to be excellent literary fiction. At times Carlos Ruiz Zafon's writing reminded me of both Gabriel Garcia Marquez's and Jorge Luis Borges' work. My expectations rose dramatically as I began to hope for more than a good read. Instead of great literature, however, the novel became an overlong and predictable bestseller, with a most original premise, some brilliant passages and many flaws.

Sr. Ruiz Zafon's extraordinary idea of creating a Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthian library where each book awaits someone to choose it and give it another chance to live by making it part of the new owner's life, gave me chills. There existed a possibility, as I read the first chapters, that I might be able to list this as one of my favorite works of fiction. Unfortunately, my disappointment when reaching the novel's conclusion overshadowed the book's many positive elements.

Daniel Sempere is a young boy who fears he has forgotten the image of his dead mother's face. His compassionate father, an antiquarian book dealer, introduces him to the book cemetery. Daniel and Sr. Sempere are both memorable and unusual characters, as are many of Ruiz Zafon's other figures. Fermin, a former Republican agent who becomes a second father to Daniel, and Julian Carax, the author of the book Daniel selects, are both extraordinary men. Daniel's choice of books ultimately determines the course of his life, as he tries to discover if the author is still alive and solve the multitude of mysteries surrounding him. The setting, post-WWII Barcelona, is fascinating and Zafon depicts a brooding city in mourning as a result of the atrocities of both civil and world wars.
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