- Paperback: 487 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books (February 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143034901
- ISBN-13: 978-0143034902
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,354 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,375 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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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As far as the plot, Daniel Sempere, a young boy, is first introduced to the world of books when his father takes him to the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Choosing a novel entitled The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, Daniel sets into motion fate and destiny. Upon learning that someone is going great lengths to destroy every copy of this author’s works, Daniel goes on a quest to search for this mysterious author and understand his life. Along the way, Daniel experiences love, and learns more about himself as a person and the puzzle of Carax. There’s something foreboding—and intriguing—about the possession of this book and it opens to the door to many mysteries of the past and present: forbidden love, unforeseen danger.
For the most part, Zafon’s novel has a compelling, mysterious, enchanting quality, one that engages and interests the reader from the start. I also enjoyed some of the minor characters too, especially Nuria Monfort, who is a complex character who adds much depth to the story, especially as Daniel unravels several mysteries.
Not all is perfect with the novel, however, and the book loses some of its mystical quality at certain points. Much of this comes when Daniel’s sidekick, Fermin, comes into the story. Fermin offers some comic relief, but has a court jester-like quality to him. He is initially fun, but becomes annoying as the novel progresses, and seems to “dumb down” and lessen the intrigue factor. Another issue is with the over-the-top villainy, so overdone that I could literally envision the main antagonist twisting his mustache with his fingers all the while plotting and laughing maniacally. Some of the male characters, particularly the fathers of the children, are carbon copies of each other, almost interchangeable.
This aside, though, The Shadow of the Wind is well worth the read, a book I highly recommend for those who like mystery, suspense or the Gothic tradition. It’s also a book about books, another plus in my, ahem, book. It’s a novel that pulls you in, and makes you interested in the protagonist’s fate. As other have attested, this is a book encompassing so many elements and themes that it has a wide range of appeal. There’s something for everyone in this reading experience.
The Shadow of the Wind is well written, with complicated intertwined stories that are begging for a second read.
Most recent customer reviews
Amazing story, probably one of the best books I have ever read.Read more