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The Shadow of the Wind

(El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1)

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  469,020 ratings  ·  36,283 reviews
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every ...more
Paperback, US / CAN Edition, 487 pages
Published 2005 by Penguin Books (first published May 2001)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  469,020 ratings  ·  36,283 reviews


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Annalisa
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: some language and sex
Recommended to Annalisa by: book club
I read the opening few pages and instantly knew 3 things:
1. I was going to love this book.
2. I needed a whole pad of post-its to mark quotes.
3. I wanted to read this in Spanish for the rich poetry the language would add.

A young boy Daniel is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and told to salvage a book which he must take stewardship over. He choses a novel—or maybe it chose him—that touches him, stirs his desire for literature, and forever entangles him with the fate of the b
...more
Jamie
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone. So good.
Recommended to Jamie by: The girl at the Ferry Building Bookshop
There's probably nothing much I "learned" in the introspective sense, but this is a novel like a novel ought to be. This is an epic film on paper, gloomy and engaging, smokey, noir with crumbling ruins, young love, disfigurment, lust, torture...the stuff of Dumas, DuMauier and, as of late, The Historian. I woke up at five a.m. and had to sweet talk myself back to sleep: all I wanted to do was read. One Friday, after work, I took sanctuary in The Hotel Biron, those little tables in the dark, page ...more
Daniel Teo
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, own
After reading The Shadow of the Wind, I was left with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is such a beautifully written book, and is in essence an ode to literature. On the other hand, there are some serious flaws which distracts from the whole experience.

The best thing about the book, in my opinion, is Zafon's skill in artistic writing. It reminds me of why I love to read in the first place, and makes me wish I could write as beautiful as this. The book contains lots of memorable qu
...more
Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James
Oct 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Tanja (Tanychy) by: a friend
The fact is that I’ll never be able to write a real review for this book. Here is why :

1. I’m not good enough.
I’m not now and I’ll never be. It doesn’t matter how many books you have read or how smart you are, you’ll never be good enough for that. You won’t be able to find exact words and it’s not just you. Only person who can is the author himself, but I think he already said everything he wanted.
Don’t believe me?
- “Books are mirrors - you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
...more
jessica
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
riveting. mysterious. haunting. imaginative. charming. sentimental.

the list of adjectives is endless. and whilst this book is all of these, the one thing that i will forever remember about this book is how it makes me appreciate the art of storytelling. i didnt feel like i was reading a novel; i felt as if someone very dear was sitting next to me and telling me their favourite tale. i was enamoured with the nuances of the language and swept up with all the action. it was an absolute pleasure to
...more
Petrik
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5/5 stars

An astonishingly engaging story within a story type of novel; the passion for books and reading introduced in the first chapter was just an appetizer before all the interconnecting twists and turns.


I’ve been having a lot of good lucks lately in reading books outside of epic fantasy—my favorite sub-genre. The Shadow of the Wind is a novel that I’ve heard so many positive things about for several years; it is one of those books that’s often recommended by readers, regardless of their ma
...more
Mark Lawrence
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about books, a story about stories. It starts and ends in a library of sorts, themes and plots are echoed across decades, tied together by actors who find their roles changing, and by a pen that links two cycles of the story and has its own tale that started before and goes on beyond.

"the art of reading is slowly dying, it's an intimate ritual, a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great read
...more
Jon Cox
Sep 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
I can't believe someone actually published this book. Even worse, in my opinion is the fact that this book is on the New York Times Bestseller List. How is this possible? It must only mean that there are a lot of people out there that think very differently from me. Don't you be one of them. Seriously. Don't be fooled by this book. It is insipid, lame, and poorly written.

First. The prose is so overblown that the author uses three adjectives for every single noun. Count them. He evidently was to
...more
Maxwell
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fourth reading: May 7-17, 2017
Of course I love this book soooo much. It's my all-time favorite. This is the 4th year in a row I've read it, and it never gets old. If you haven't already read this at my suggestion, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Third reading: May 14-21, 2016

Second reading: May 23-25, 2015-
Okay, I can confidently say, upon re-reading this, that it is one of my all-time favorite books. It was just as surprising and enchanting and delightful as the first time I read it, if not more so.
...more
Matthew
This is an excellent piece of literature. It contains poetic storytelling, shocking twists, thoroughly developed characters, symbolism, humor, romance, betrayal, action, sentimentality, nostalgia, and much, much more.

For book lovers it is perfect because it revolves around the mysteries of a little known author (Julian Carax) that the main protagonist, Daniel, stumbles across in a secret stash of literature called the Cemetery of Forgotten books. From there it quickly develops into a fantastic
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
La Sombra Del Viento = The Shadow of the Wind (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1), Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The novel is actually a story within a story. The boy, Daniel Sempere, in his quest to discover Julián's other works, becomes involved in tracing the entire history of Carax.

His friend, who goes by the alias of Fermín Romero de Torres, was imprisoned and tortured in Montjuïc Castle as a result of his involvement in espionage against the government during the Civil War.

He helps Daniel in a
...more
Simon
Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It's been a couple years since I read this book so I shouldn't and won't go into details, but the effect has lingered all this time. There's no other book I'm quicker to recommend than this one. It's not that it's particularly important in a lot of the ways "important" books are, it's just that it works as pure reading pleasure (and sometimes, isn't that enough?); so I find reviews from people desperate to discover structural flaws and stylistic cliches to be totally missing the point. Buy it ne ...more
Whitney Atkinson
I loved this book so much that I feel like my tears should speak for themselves and I don't even need to review it. At the same time, I want to shout from the rooftops about how good this book is. So here I am.

This book is the perfect mix of dark brooding mystery with a wistful romance and a melancholy, bookish main character. There's so many elements that are effortlessly held afloat by the gorgeous, melodic, and yet digestible writing. I tabbed the everloving sunshine out of this book because
...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘


2/2.5 stars. Look, it's not my thing to mince my words, so I'll give you my opinion and ultimately, you'll decide what to make of it anyway : as far as I'm concerned, The Shadow of the Wind is overrated and, to say the truth, a bit of a smokescreen. Despite its obvious qualities, I have to admit that I'm a little baffled of its status given that all the flaws, if found in some random YA book, would be called out without any doubt.



Caricatures as characters, from Daniel the Romantic whose const
...more
Kevin Ansbro
"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."


In post-civil war Barcelona, ten-year-old birthday boy, Daniel Sempere is taken by his father to a top-secret, labyrinthine library called 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' and is asked to select whichever one of the dusty publications calls out to him from an exhaustive succession of shelves.
He chooses an obscure novel, The Shadow of the Wind writte
...more
❄️BooksofRadiance❄️
Rereading the series in preparation for one of my most anticipated releases of the year, The Labyrinth of the Spirits.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~<><>~~~~~~~~~~

ALL THE STARS.
⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Welcome to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

** Hauntingly beautiful.

** Gothic & atmospheric.

** A book about the love of books.

what more could a reader ask for?

** And the best part? This book was never even on my radar until I heard someone talk about it by chance. I was intrigued by what they said and bought it t
...more
Hannah Greendale
Jun 04, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, gothic
Sound the alarm! Unpopular opinion to follow! (Making this review a bit more personal than usual, because I can't slam a one-star review on this highly popular title without giving some explanation for my disappointment).

To put it simply: verbose and wearying. Zafón seems to have swallowed a thesaurus and proceeds to regurgitate synonyms with unrelenting force. In The Shadow of the Wind, a man does not simply urinate, he "discharge[s] his generous, steamy cascade."

The Shadow of the Wind is an o
...more
Warwick
Dec 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, barcelona, spain
Dire. The writing is along Dan Brown lines, with flowery metaphors mixed until they become meaningless. From page 1: "My father sighed, hiding behind the sad smile that followed him like a shadow all through his life." How can he be hiding behind it if it's following him? Then on the next page someone is described as having "vulturine features", but in the following sentence he has an "aquiline gaze". This sloppiness is everywhere.

The whole thing feels like it desperately wants be seen as some k
...more
Lola
Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I found this novel by accident, while quickly browsing shelves at the local library, and let me just say it was the best accidental find i've had in years. From the very first line to the end i loved it, and as a reader i am not easily pleased by anything. I love stories out of the ordinary that captivate my imagination and run away with it. That is exactly what The Shadow of The Wind did.

Right off the bat the plot intrigued me, Daniel Sempere is taken to the a secret labyrinth of forgotten book
...more
EmBibliophile
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
5 stars

I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction books, but from those I’ve read, this one might be the best. I can’t point out why I’m feeling so overwhelmed by it, maybe it was the atmospheric setting, the complex characters, the bookish theme of the book, the beautiful poetic quotes, or most importantly the perfect way of storytelling. All I know that after finishing it I felt so sad and so happy both at the same time. I was experiencing different kind of emotions all at once.

This book made
...more
Kelly
May 31, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gothic/Romantic lit freaks
Trying too hard. I wonder if I hadn't read this right after Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell if I would have liked it better. They were both trying to pay homage to the gothic/Romantic era writers, except that Strange and Norrell was brilliant, and this one was.. eh. I appreciated what the author was trying to do, but he didn't do it well enough to keep me reading. Yes, Romantic lit is full of cliche, but the thing is to do it in an intriguing way and with enough wit to keep your audience intere ...more
Nataliya
"Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."
Well, I wonder then what part of me I saw inside this book - a book I adored despite its imperfections, despite its frequent veering into melodrama, despite (or maybe because of?) its densely Gothic atmosphere.

Whatever it was, it was enough to make me lose myself completely in the rich setting of mid-20th century Barcelona, in the world of seductive dangerous power of literature and perils and passions of young love,
...more
Margitte
After finishing this book, I was totally blown away by the number of GR friends who already read it. It was really the greatest thrill.

At last, yes, at last! It was finito! What a read it was. Honestly, I thought it was never going to end, that the saga beginning in 1945, after the Civil War in Spain, was just too dragging and too detailed for my sensitive soul. Emotionally I shut down around the halfway mark, hanging onto the picturesque, descriptive prose for dear life, sensing a light at the
...more
Peter
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Foreboding
Mysterious, atmospheric and compelling!
“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, … 'Daniel you mustn’t tell anyone what you’re about to see today’ my father warned.”
The wonderful opening line that sets the scene for an eerie and mysterious story waiting to unfold over the next 400 pages. A captivating foreboding story that changes the air around you as you read.

The tradition for those that ar
...more
Arah-Lynda
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top, i-said


Here is one for those of us who absolutely adore great literature. It is almost as though The Shadow of the Wind was written for book lovers everywhere. An adrenaline laced, pulse pounding, suspense filled, dark and romantic, gothic adventure, peopled with brilliantly developed, colourful, charismatic and ultimately,unforgetable characters. It really should come with a warning as it will keep you reading late into the night and long after you should have put it down. Fantastic! A must read folks
...more
Will Byrnes
Oct 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
A fun read, intriguing, fast-paced, with interesting and engaging characters.
Swaroop Kanti
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Some things can only be seen in the shadows."

The Shadow of the Wind is the story of a writer, narrated by a young boy. The storyline is set in 1950s Barcelona ("bar-se-lona") and during the times of Spanish Civil War.

Even though, there are a few incidents in the book that feel stretched and over the top, this book turns into an interestingly good read because of the beautiful characters, wonderful storyline and Carlos Ruiz Zafón's vividly descriptive writing.
"Every book, every volume you s
...more
BlackOxford
Jun 22, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: spanish
Forgettable Indeed

Disappointing. The genre is uncertain without being creative. The story is complex without being interesting. The prose is increasingly trite as the book progresses. Improbable coincidences abound. The structure involves constant repetition rather than elucidation. I'm sure Zafon has the same editor as Donna Tartt, the one who allows the book to reach print about 60% too long. Talk about prolix! Don't let the first few chapters fool you. This book goes nowhere and has no discer
...more
Jordan
Mar 26, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book SEEMED like it was going to be so good - a dark mystery set in post-war Barcelona, with tragic love and a place called The Cemetary of Forgotton Books... what's not to love? (To be honest, I'm not a fan of tragic love, but everything else at least seemed great). But while I was vaguely curious to see how everything pieced together, I didn't like or care about any of the characters, and dialogue like "Sometimes I no longer know who you are," kept me at a distance. The book never went be ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
*****VERY UNPOPULAR OPINION TIME*****

The majority of my friends love this book to death but I didn't. Some of my friends didn't love it so I don't feel so alone thank goodness.

I tried reading the paperback awhile back and put it down. Then I picked it up again and the beginning was so good. I thought we were going to go on some kind of crazy journey when I read about the cemetery of forgotten books. It just never went where I thought it might go.

I finally got the audio version on Overdrive and
...more
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Carlos Ruiz Zafón was a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and worked as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las l
...more

Other books in the series

El cementerio de los libros olvidados (4 books)
  • The Angel's Game (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #2)
  • The Prisoner of Heaven (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #3)
  • El laberinto de los espíritus (El cementerio de los libros olvidados, #4)

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