Tricia's Reviews > The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
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Jul 26, 10

Read from July 05 to 25, 2010, read count: 1

I love reading endorsements from other authors on book jackets. Usually the endorsements are rarely as entertaining to read as the book, but sometimes one strikes my fancy or just sums up the book so well that I can't argue. For "The Shadow of the Wind" by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Stephen King writes, "One gorgeous read." And I can't argue with that.

Originally written in Spanish, the novel was translated into English by Lucia Graves, the daughter of Robert Graves—indicating a promising read. Although I can't compare to the original text, Graves seems to accurately capture the language, which is Infused with aromatic and other sensory imagery, bringing the streets of 1950s Barcelona alive.

The story follows Daniel, the son of a bookstore owner, over the course of a decade as he tries to solve the mystery of Julián Carax, an author whose books are being burned out of existence. Carax himself is no where to be found and someone wants to ensure his books won't be either. The torching, Daniel discovers, is the private mission of one obsessed man, Lain Coubert. What Daniel also discovers is that Lain Coubert is the name of the character of Satan from Carax's last novel.

"The Shadow of the Wind" is top-notch literary suspense, masterfully weaving a coming-of-age story with a compelling and engaging whodunit. I deliberately savored the story, taking weeks to read what would typically take a weekend. My only disappointment came at the end, where the story wraps up too neatly for my taste, specifically the epilogue, which reminded me of the one at the end of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

Regardless of its semi-saccharine tendencies—it is a coming-of-age story after all—I found many passages worth nothing, if not for their beauty, then for their insight. In particular, the affection and reverence for books is quite captivating, perhaps only because I think it imparts what most avid readers must feel from time to time.

Near the beginning, Daniel reflects on the importance of one's first "true-love" book:
"Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echos of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return. For me those enchanted pages will always be the ones I found among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books."

And later, about forgotten books:
"As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure change, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking into an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot."

If you're a book lover, I suggest exploring the universe and souls in Zafrón's novel, "The Shadow of the Wind." I found myself hungering for more.

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Quotes Tricia Liked

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
“As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn't help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
tags: books


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