- Paperback: 487 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (February 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143034901
- ISBN-13: 978-0143034902
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,306 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Shadow of the Wind
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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 Mass Market Paperback edition.
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 Mass Market Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
In 1945 following Spain’s civil war a man takes his ten-year old son Daniel to a library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There Daniel must pick out one book. He chooses called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax.
What follows is a lyrical journey of Daniel’s life and adventures throughout his lifelong search for more information about Julian Carax. On his journey through life, Daniel meets all kinds of interesting people including an individual named Lain Coubert (who happens to be the main character in The Shadow of the Wind),who is determined to burn all of Carax’ novels. Is this person the devil? A demon of some sort? He reeks of burning and essentially has no facial features. He threatens Daniel and all that he holds dear for not turning over the Carax book. He also meets an evil fascist police inspector named Fumero who has people tortured and killed in the basement of the police station. He also threatens Daniel and his family and friends.
He travels with Fermin, who works at the bookstore with Daniel and his father, to a school at which Julian attended. There they charm and trick one of the clerics who grew up with Julian to talk about him. They learn a great deal about him. Fermin does not miss the parallels between Julian and Daniel’s lives. They also learn that Julian went to school with Fumero.
They go to visit Penelope’s (Julian’s lost love), nanny in a run down and filthy care home. She tells them the story of Penelope and Julian’s aborted love affair. Fermin again notices the similarities between Julian and Daniel’s lives. On their way home, they are set upon by Fumero and his thugs. Fermin receives a terrible beating.
But this does not stop their search for answers. Daniel comes into the possession of a lengthy letter to him that was written by a woman before she died. And with this letter, the truth comes out; the whole sordid and awful truth.
This is my first Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel, but I can promise it won’t be my last. I truly enjoyed this novel. It is very well written and plotted, and totally without any wasted words. That’s a real achievement for a novel this long. The suspense and intrigue start immediately with this book, and the level of excitement continues throughout the novel. The use of language is beautiful and Mr. Zafon really knows how to turn a phrase, as it were.
It's the kind of story that lingers...long after you've turned the final page.
I loved the many nuances, layers, twists and turns, timing of revelations; the manner in which characters' lives unfold and then intersect; story threads that come together...
I'm looking forward to reading more of the author's stories!
However, the story is fantastic in that there is mystery, devotion, murder, love, hopelessness, sadness, redemption, and vengeance all woven throughout plots, subplots, and unique characters.
Even in cases where I couldn’t stand a character, I can empathize with them, feel sorry for them, or even hate them with a glorious passion that had me continually turning pages in the hopes that these poor souls are able to lift themselves up, solve a mystery that haunts them, break free from their love of a lackluster life, and in some cases, get what they have coming.
What kept this from being a 5 start rating was that, since a great deal of backstory is needed, there are sections where characters will wax eloquent about scenes from their past which sheds light for both our main characters and the reader, but I didn’t like how questions were quickly answered in these flashbacks. These stories from the characters are wonderfully written and capture your attention, but my only complaint is rather than getting a few slices of our literary pizza here and there, in some cases, the delivery person just kicks down the door and throws the whole plot-pizza on the table.
I can overlook this though as I also hate a story where a character or characters could solve mysteries, clear up misunderstandings, or generally stop a series of unfortunate events by simply sitting down and talking, but never get around to it since that doesn’t allow a book to be drawn out. So the mystery-solving-storytelling is not a huge problem.
Read this book because the characters are beautifully flawed--as are we all--the story is wonderful in its complexity, and the overall book is one that I enjoyed and will come back to over the years.