Deb's Reviews > The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
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Apr 03, 08

bookshelves: fiction, favorites
Read in April, 2008

I bought a copy of this book last September at the library's book sale, but it languished unread on my shelf until yesterday. What prompted me to pick it up was this: I was browsing through the backlist and pre-orders at Subterranean Press because of an author I'd found who releases specialized, small run stories that I thought I'd like to read. (Caitlin R. Kiernan) Turns out her books now run about $40-60 a pop and are generally only available third hand. As I browsed down the list, I saw that "The Shadow of the Winds" was priced at $75, and thought it was odd since the trade paperback was surely no more than $15.

Not only is this small press offering a $75 edition, they're also printing 26 copies of a $500 edition. That piqued my curiousity intensely--I knew the book was popular in literary circles, but I didn't think it had reached those heights. At the bottom of the page, the hook, line, and sinker read:

"We consider The Shadow of the Wind one of the most important books of the past twenty years, and aim to honor it with the lavish edition it so richly deserves."

I'm trying to read slowly: fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there. This is a book that wants to be devoured, and I'm beginning to feel about it like I feel about Winterson's The Passion--sentences with lush philosophical gems sparkle in Zafon's beautiful prose, and I'm bending corners on the pages with the phrases that make me ache. (There are only four books that I've ever bent pages on).

The basic plot of the story runs something like this: the son of a Barcelona book-seller is taken to a graveyard of books to find and adopt one of them. He picks "The Shadow of the Wind" by Julian Carax and, after reading through the book in its entirety, realizes that it is the pinnacle of anything he's every read. After trying to find more books by Carax, however, the boy discovers a mystery that digs deep into both his life and the lives of those around him.

The truly interesting part is the way this novel is layered like Russian puzzle dolls, how each chapter reveals more plot within the plot. The amazing part comes when you realize the connections between the book you're reading and the book within the book: both novels are called "The Shadow of the Wind," both are the only known books in existence under the authors' names, and the main character is starting to resemble the author as well.

One more description to draw you in, taken from the Washington Post's review: "...If you love A.S. Byatt's Possession, Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, the short stories of Borges, Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas, or Paul Auster's 'New York' trilogy...then you will love The Shadow of the Wind.

Yes yes yes. Yes yes.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Aram I was going to just skim and disregard most of what you wrote, Deb. Until you said this:
"This is a book that wants to be devoured, and I'm beginning to feel about it like I feel about Winterson's The Passion".

The Passion is one of my absolute favorite books, one of the best I've think I've ever read. I fell in love with Winterson's writing when I read that book.

And, I've been trying to put my finger on what is drawing me so deeply into The Shadow of The Wind. It must be something to do with the atmospherics and such a Gothic setting, but the *Feel* so similar: such an air of mystery, a smokey world of shadows, mists, ever-changing (like Venice) that is hard to understand and *know* so much of the time.

I love a writer who can use Gothic story-telling and rich, lush prose as a platform to illuminate some essential (to her) truth in life. I think Winterson did that in The Passion. I have yet to finish The Shadow of the Wind, so I can't yet conclude whether Zafon will do the same in this book.


Holly I found myself bending corners of pages to mark quotes too. :)


Elizabeth Excellent review!! Thanks for the tip about Subterranean Press, too.


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