Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Blurb: Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, 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 Julián 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 book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
Me: My favorite book that I have read in 2016 so far, and one of my favorites of all time. All lovers of literature should read.
The Ups: I did not know what to expect at all when I read this novel. I didn't know it would perfectly sum every feeling I have for literature, introduce characters and perspectives I fell in love with, create a beautiful, mystical setting, all the while creating a plot full of loss and love. An all-nighter well spent.
This book revolves around books. Words, stories, literature and the love for books is woven into every chapter and every page. As a bibliophile, it was incredible to see my love of books and how I feel when I read an amazing book be descripted in beautiful language. Not only that, but the lengths people will go to to save something they treasure so dearly...
I loved all of the characters, and for the time I was reading the book, they became my family. Daniel, his father, and especially Fermin felt so close to me after I had finished the book. Daniel was a great protagonist, with a determined mind and a quiet, passionate love for books. Fermin was great comic relief and yet his grief and painful past evoked so much sympathy and love for him. He also described the lives of the homeless so well: I hope to remember this quote in the future, and consider their perspectives.
"Life on the streets is short. People look at you in disgust, even the ones who give you alms, but this is nothing compared to the revulsion you feel for yourself. It's like being trapped in a walking corpse, a corpse that's hungry, stinks, and refuses to die."
The setting is in the late 1940s to 50s in Barcelona, Spain. Already atmospheric with the dark, gloomy tension of a country come out of war, the various places Daniel goes to in order to solve the mystery of Julian Carax seem like places out of a movie. My absolute favorite is the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where books that have been abandoned are kept in a huge building, ready for anybody willing to read them.
The plot. Oh goodness. I am not the hugest fan of mystery, but THIS. I expected absolutely nothing, and it didn't even feel like any plot twists actually happened, because looking back on it, I saw that everything made sense. As crazy as the whole situation was, the actions were logical. As the history of Julian Carax slowly unraveled...it was like going up a roller coaster building for the ultimate climax.
"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."
"So long as we are being remembered, we remain alive...Don't let me go."
"There are worse prisons than words."
Rating: Absolutely BEAT the Scale.