Barcelona, 1945just 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 mothers face. To console his only child, Daniels widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelonas guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniels 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 Caraxs 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 Barcelonas darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesnt find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly. As with all astounding novels, The Shadow of the Wind sends the mind groping for comparisonsThe Crimson Petal and the White? The novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte? Of Victor Hugo? Love in the Time of Cholera?but in the end, as with all astounding novels, no comparison can suffice. As one leading Spanish reviewer wrote, The originality of Ruiz Zafóns voice is bombproof and displays a diabolical talent. The Shadow of the Wind announces a phenomenon in Spanish literature. An uncannily absorbing historical mystery, a heart-piercing romance, and a moving homage to the mystical power of books, The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storytellers art.
The Critic's Rave Reviews are all Correct
By Edward W. Jawer - May 25, 2004
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,... read more
As good as a Caráx novel
By A. L. Spieckerman - July 29, 2004
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,... read more
How You See It Depends on What You Bring to It
By Steve Koss - March 4, 2005
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... read more
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