Nenia Campbell's Reviews > The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
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Mar 06, 14

bookshelves: subtitles, litry-fiction, historical
Read from February 11 to 12, 2012

Oh my goodness. This was fantastic. I want to go all gushy and rave about how awesome this book is but that wouldn't be very helpful to people who actually want to know about the content of the book and not about the psychotic goofball reviewing it (although if you do, feel free to follow my reviews or add me - I'm a friendly psychotic goofball!). In terms of plot, the main character, Daniel Sempere, describes this book best:

"This is a story about books... about accursed books, about the man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about a betrayal and a lost friendship. It's a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind" (178).


I'm shocked that this quote wasn't on my book's cover - that is blurb material right there.

The Shadow of the Wind is, as Daniel so kindly explained, a book about books - the title refers to the focal point of the mystery: a disturbing novel by a man named Julian Carax, picked out by Daniel himself as a child, on a trip with his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Isn't that a neat idea? Where books go to die. It's so poetic and gothic and oh-so-creepy. I knew from the get-go that I was going to love this novel because of this quote:

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens" (6).


Mr. Zafon understands that deep-rooted instinctual love that true lovers of books have, unequivocally, for reading. A good book is more than just a story; it's an insight into the author's own mind. It's why we have such a strong feeling of simpatico with the books we love so dearly, as though the author wrote about us or the people we know. So that begs the question: how do you destroy a writer you hate? That's easy. Burn his books. All of them. Commit all of his ideas and memories to a funereal pyre so nobody will read or enjoy them ever again.

And that is exactly what somebody is doing to all existing copies of The Shadows of the Wind and the rest of Julian Carax's books. In fact, Daniel's copy may well be the last in existence. Since he has chosen the book from the Cemetery, he is its guardian - a task that becomes much more difficult than he ever imagined when protecting it leads him on a dangerous journey of family secrets, forbidden love, revenge... and murder.

They were wrong. It was not a will to live. It was hatred (422).


In this chilling, gothic novel, Zafon explores what makes people turn evil... and how thin the lines are between the "good" and the "bad." Sometimes bad things happen to good people - and sometimes good people do bad things.

"[People are] not evil...[they are m]oronic, which isn't quite the same thing. Evil presupposes a moral decision, intention, and some forethought. A moron or a lout, however, doesn't stop to think or reason. He acts on instinct, like a stable animal, convinced that he's doing good, that he's always right, and sanctimoniously proud to go around fucking up...anyone he perceives to be different from himself" (155).


These points are further illustrated by use of parallels between the author's own tragic and shadowy past, and those of the book's protector, Daniel. This is a device used by a fair amount of books-about-books thrillers, but few can do it so eloquently as this. Think Possession by A.S. Byatt, but in Spain in the 1950s, with even more scandal and impropriety.

In fact, in terms of tone and mood of this mystery novel reminded me a lot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It's very dark and morbid, and shows how desperately and jealously people guard their own filthy secrets. The Shadow of the Wind is just as long, and just as intense. However, unlike TGwtDT, it doesn't take 100 pages for the action to kick in. This book drop-kicks you from the beginning and sends you flying until the end.

Read it. You know you want to. Because if you don't read it, you might just be condemning it to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Do you really want that on your conscience? Do you? DO you, Buddy?

I didn't think so.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Ruben This is one of my all time favorite books that I read then listened to ( I recommend the audio) a few years ago and I love your review. The quotes you use and the character references are spot on (but we could quote the entire book, couldn't we? :-) Thanks!!!


Nenia Campbell Aww, thanks, Ruben!


Vane Lol, i understand your feelings for this book: I love it too. The difference is I had to write a review for it (I read it for school, believe it or not).


Nenia Campbell Vane wrote: "Lol, i understand your feelings for this book: I love it too. The difference is I had to write a review for it (I read it for school, believe it or not)."

It was amazing. I love atmospheric supernatural thrillers like this. Just bought HOUSE OF LEAVES--hoping it gives me the same chills as this and NIGHT FILM.


Sean Gibson This is a great review of a great book, Nenia!


Nenia Campbell Sean wrote: "This is a great review of a great book, Nenia!"

Sometimes I can be eloquent by accident.


Sean Gibson Happens to the worst of us. ;)


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