REVIEW: The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Synopsis

The international literary sensation, about a boy’s quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget.

Barcelona, 1945 – just 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 mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s 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 Carax’s 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 Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t 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 comparisons—The 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 Zafón’s 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 storyteller’s art.

Review

I went into this book without having previously read any reviews of it and so I had no idea what an amazing book I was about to get into. I can confidently say that this is one of my new favourite books!

Pros

🔶 The writing is effortlessly powerful and graceful- Zafon seems to have found the perfect words and phrasing for everything (and so has the English translator)

🔶 Every single character is intriguing in their own way

🔶 Clara’s character is mesmerizing. Like the main character Daniel, I fell in love with Clara. Her swan-like description, her wise, blind eyes, her surface innocence – I felt like I was in a trance.

swoon

🔶 Fermin was very mysterious and up-front all at once – you never knew what to expect from him. He proves that there is a fine line between a genius and madman. Although, some of my favourite quotes are from him

🔶 The book has a brilliantly mysterious and gothic atmosphere throughout

🔶 It’s amazing that there is no magic in this book because between the writing style and mystery, it feels so magical

🔶 Between the beautiful writing, Daniel’s growth, the romances, the friendships, the books, and the mystery, I was never bored

🔶There is so much effortless emotion packed into every plot point – I wanted to cry when Daniel opened his birthday present

🔶They mere premise of the book, a faceless man trying to burn every book in existence written by this one small author, is completely gripping

🔶The ending wasn’t a completely huge shock, but it didn’t need to be – it’s definitely about the journey with this story

Cons

🔶 Personally I didn’t know any of Spain’s history going into the story, so I feel like while I was trying to piece together what happened it may have taken away from the story a bit – although the story itself explains things pretty well

I really don’t know exactly how to express how much I loved this book. Just the effortless writing, gothic atmosphere, magical undertones, captivating characters….And it’s a book about books, with a cemetery of forgotten books. I would highly, highly recommend this to anyone, especially to those who love historical fiction, mystery, urban fantasy, or books about books. As I’ve said, this is definitely one of my new favourite books. 

Please, do yourself a favour and read it!

please

Rating

5/5 Stars 

🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕

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