Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

From Amazon: Barcelona, 1945-just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn't find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

I couldn't possibly say it better than Stephen King, "Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots...this is one gorgeous read. -- Stephen King

This book was hard to put down. It was at times confusing because there were so many characters and so many intertwining stories but the mood - suspenseful, Gothic, dark, shadowy/rainy/drizzly - kept me on edge throughout the book. My favorite character, Fermin Romero de Torres, provided some of the more light hearted moments with his optimism and his colorful descriptions....paler than a nun's thigh, rancid as a councilman's fart, breasts like two schooners, he had a way with words! The villains were pure evil - Inspector Fumero relished in his evilness. It's hard for me to decide if the book can be taken seriously or if it just too campy but either way, as King said, it was a "gorgeous read."

This was the October 2009 selection for the Facebook Historical Fiction book club led by Jennifer over at The Literate Housewife.

This is one of the books on my list for Fall Into Reading 2009. Click on the logo to see my progress.


Literate Housewife said...

I am so glad that you liked it and that we share the same favorite characters. This was a great read for October.

bermudaonion said...

Everyone seems to love this book - I think I need to break down and buy it.

Beth F said...

I loved this book and tried to make everyone I know read it.

Jenny said...

Glad you liked this one. It is one of my favorites. I found the way Zafon wove the story together made the book difficult to put down. I have his new one, Angel's Game, but have not read it yet.