Written by: Carlos Ruiz Zafrón
Pages: 487 (Trade Paperback)
The premise: ganked from BN.com: In the postwar calm of 1945 Barcelona, ten-year-old Daniel Sempere awakes from a nightmare and, to his horror, realizes that he can no longer remember the face of his deceased mother. In an effort to divert his son's attention from this sharply felt fear and loss, his father, a rare-book dealer, first swears Daniel to secrecy, then takes him to a clandestine library where Daniel is allowed to select a single book.
Entranced, Daniel picks a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, written by the enigmatic Julián Carax, who is rumored to have fled Spain under murky circumstances, and later died. As Daniel begins to search for other works by his favorite new author, he discovers that they have all been destroyed--torched by a mysterious stranger obsessed with obliterating Carax's literary legacy from the face of the earth.
Though Daniel's copy of Carax's novel is the last in existence, he's unwilling to part with it at any price and dedicates himself to revealing the truth about Carax. Aided in his quest by the good-humored Fermín Romero de Torres, a former beggar whose "difficult life-lessons" enable him to keep a step ahead of trouble, Daniel begins to uncover a tale of murder, madness, and secrets that might best be forgotten. And as he wends his way through Barcelona society, both high and low, he comes to realize that his own part in The Shadow of the Wind is more than that of a mere reader.
Worth the Cash: I've heard very, very high praise about this book, so I'm afraid my expectations were a little TOO high. No doubt, there are some delightful and truly memorable characters in this book, and the mystery and the plots (and layers upon layers of subplots), were certainly delightful to read and discover. I also was completely blindsighted and charmed by the ending of the book, so much so that I've already put the Zafón's second novel, The Angel's Game, on my "must buy" list. Certainly, the writing is lovely, and it'll wrap you up into the world with ease, though I did find myself jarred from the text, as the prose made me think of a much older period, and my brain kept resisting the time in which the book was set. Also, while I enjoyed the book, I never had felt the chomping-at-the-bit feeling of wanting to get back to it. Certainly, it's a good, solid read, and worth it to anyone who enjoys fiction, but I think my expectations worked against me, as well as the book, so I didn't enjoy it as much as I might have if I hadn't had said expectations. Still, there's true beauty in these pages, and the book is worth checking out.
Review style: spoilers to be found, because part of what charms me about this book lies in those very spoilers, and I want to talk about those spoilers in comparison to my expectations. So, if you've read the book and/or you don't mind spoilers, feel free to read the full review at my LJ, which is linked below. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome!
REVIEW: Carlos Ruiz Zafón's THE SHADOW OF THE WIND
Book club selections @ calico_reaction. Hop on over! We'd love to have you!
January: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
February: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler