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The Shadow of the Wind Hardcover – April 12, 2004
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, I enjoyed it very much.
The plot is complex going back and forth over several decades and bringing in a subtle magical realism. Read more
one of the most emotional and moving story ever written, well done Carlos Ruiz ZafonPublished 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
It has some nice twists in it with great character building, but the ending kind of falls flat with abrupt explanations to close up plot holes. Read morePublished 8 days ago by steven18179
I really liked this book it takes place in Barcelona so there was a charming element to it. I would recommend it and want to read other books from the author.Published 9 days ago by Marta Celis
I LIKE HIS STYLE...I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN BUT WAS GLAD WHEN IT ENDED.Published 10 days ago by Sandra Culver
This book came highly recommended by a colleague because of my love for Barcelona. The setting was circa WWII and it had an Octavio Paz feel to it. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Marita L. Marley-villanueva