Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

shadow-of-the-windCarlos Ruiz Zafón (below) has proved a storming hit in Spain since the publication of his novel The Prince of Mist (which is now available in English), then he came out with The Shadow of the Wind, another major success story.

And not just in Spain, no.

This book got an international crowd of readers gulping up his poetic descriptions and charming characters. For the English reader we have Lucia Graves translation from the original Spanish to get our teeth in to and it does not disappoint.

I loved this book from beginning to end. I know a lot of people say “I just couldn’t put it down” and “I had to stay up all night to finish it” when reviewing books but seriously, this really was the case.

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a place where books are saved from oblivion and protected for all time. Amongst these dusty shelves young Daniel Sempere is told he can pick one book and keep it forever. It is every book lover’s paradise and it is here that our story truly begins.

Out of all the thousands of books inhabiting the ‘Cemetery’ Daniel picks The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax, a rare book that everyone seems to want to get their hands on, but why? Throughout the novel the reader is treated to an engrossing experience as they watch Daniel grow up and mature from the young boy we are first introduced to, to a man. But always at the centre of his life is this one book.

Expect romance, adventure, mystery and a good dose of humour to take the edge off the tragic story of the enigmatic Julián Carax that shadows Daniel’s own life. Zafón beautifully entwines Julian’s past with Daniel’s present until they both fully collide in the spectacularly cinematic climax.

Carlos Ruiz ZafonZafón’s wonderful array of characters creates a vibrant dose of vitality to the novel that is emphasised by the beautiful backdrop of Barcelona against which the novel is set.

However, whilst Daniel is a good narrator for me FermÍn stole the show, if you have ever read The Picture of Dorian Gray then you could perhaps compare FermÍn to Lord Henry Wotton, they both posses charismatic qualities that make the reader long for their next piece of dialogue and they both take up an interesting tutor-like position for the main character in their respective novels.

In FermÍn, Zafón gives us both wit and wisdom that is bound to bring a smile to your face or a chuckle upon your lips when reading this novel.

I thoroughly recommend this read to everyone willing to be spellbound by an enchanting novel that has it all, especially if you are a fan of Alexandre Dumas or Charles Dickens, echoes of both these great figures of literature can be seen in these pages that I for one have been compelled to visit over and over again.