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The Shadow of the Wind

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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 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 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. --back cover


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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 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 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. --back cover

30 review for The Shadow of the Wind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Annalisa

    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 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 book and its author. The strange author died in poverty but now someone is seeking out all remaining copies of his unsuccessful novels to burn. Daniel embarks on a mission to solve the mystery of the author's story being watched by a revengeful cop and the book burner himself. As the story twists and slowly unravels he doesn't know whose account to trust or how it will affect his life. Wrapped up in the mystery is a message of death: do we live a full life or wander through it numb? The Shadow of the Wind is an allegory for death in a fictitious novel by the same title. Shadow is a perfect symbol for death evoking images of how death can be metaphorical instead of literal—living shadows of lives, chasing shadows of dreams, being shadows of others, letting memories shadow life. Every character had shadows which could engulf them or they could overcome. In this sense death becomes a fate we chose ourselves. For death is not always the worst thing that can happen ("words are not always the worst prison"). Every time the word shadow was used I considered its illusion of death. It was with much thought that the word was scattered throughout the book. Spoilers Just as the fictitious novel was an echo of the book and Julian's life, I loved watching Daniel's life parallel Julian's. Both grew up poor without an ideal family life, fell in love with a rich girl who was the adoration of her father and whose brother was a best friend, evoked murderous anger from her father after impregnating her, and when they have a brush with death, extremes of hate and love anchored their fight to survive. As Julian's story unfolds, Daniel unwittingly finds himself in the exact same point of their duel destiny. Once Daniel is aware of the correlation, the comparison stops. Is it because Daniel consciously chooses to chance his path or has fate dealt him a better hand? Julian wrote "There are no coincidences. We are the puppets of our subconscious desires." But while the message is clear that we chose our own fate, it seems there was no fate but failure for Julian. The sad thing is I believed Julian's love for Penelope as it grew in obsession more than Daniel's love for Beatriz which seemed a happy chance of lust. Themes of devils and angels are prevalent as characters save and ruin each others' lives. Clara is a physical angel who is blind while Fumero an emotional devil blinded by hate. While women tended to be described as angel and men devil, most characters held both in different shades. Take Julian the angel child bringing life (love, novels) who turned into the devil Lain Coubert bringing death (destruction, fear). But the characters pick whether to accept the destiny allotted them. Fermin was living death in the shadows of the street who had to get over his demons to find life worth living. The shadows for Nuria, Julian, Fortuny, even Fumero didn't have to give them a reason to quit living. They chose shadows. The book reminded me of The 13th Tale thematically, linguistically, and in delivery, although I loved this book so much more. The way the mystery unfolds finding tidbits from different perspectives enhanced the mystery and aided the depth of characterization. When I can see the vicious wife beater, deceived husband, and regretful father all in Antonio Fortuny I get a more well rounded sense of his motives. I enjoyed how the characters played different roles for each other. I love Barcelona as the setting. If you've been to the artistically enchanting city, you know it's the perfect backdrop to this eloquently enchanting tale with a gothic feel. The Spanish have a way of making all things metaphorically beautiful. The vivid romantic passages had me smiling and at times laughing out loud. I highly enjoyed the writing and it wasn't until two-thirds of the way into the book that the story finally stole my complete attention. Julian was my initial guess and while the story kept me questioning, it was the best solution and I was happy with the conclusion. But no novel is perfect; my issues are these: 1. The readymade quotes are extreme. Zafon salvages this by calling himself out on the commentary. He sets the comments up in dialogue and then uses another character to mock the snippets. 2. Perspective, particularly in Nuria's letter, is off. How could she know what Miquel looked at when dying? The chapters of her letters change from direct commentary to Daniel to third-party narrative. Elsewhere in the novel Daniel summarizes conversations in italics but I wondered from whence the interruption of her narrative with Fumero's story came. 3. I always hope historical fiction will showcase a more accurate moral setting, but it rarely happens. While I believed the sex about Zafon's characters, done in secret and with fathers chasing down the culprits, how could they find out they were pregnant the next day? I was also disappointed that all marriages were displayed as wrong and wives disregarded. Oh well. I guess it added to the Spanish flavor of the book. 4. American authors tend to impose unrealistic happy endings while Europeans favor poignant sad ones. At one point it seemed bad things happened to Julian for nothing else than this love of tragedies. It seemed Zafon was going to ruin the characters lives to make a point. But he makes his point with Julian and leaves Daniel to gives us a satisfied ending. A story about the living dead cannot be all bliss but we still find redemption as the characters step out of the shadows and live their lives. Quotes: Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. I believed, with the innocence of those who can still count their age on their fingers, that if I closed my eyes and spoke to her, she would be able to hear me wherever I was. A secret's worth depends on the people form whom it must be kept. Women have an infallible instinct for knowing when a man has fallen madly in love with them, especially when the male in question is both a complete dunce and a minor. Death was like a nameless and incomprehensible hand...like a hellish lottery ticket. But I couldn't absorb the idea that death could actually walk by my side, with a human face and a heart that was poisoned with hatred. The eternal stupidity of pursuing those who hurt us the most. Paris is the only city in the world where starving to death is still considered an art. Arrogant as only idiots can be. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory. Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them. Television...is the Antichrist...our world will not die as a result of the bomb...it will die of laughter, of banality, of making a joke of everything. I realized how easily you can lose all animosity toward someone you've deemed your enemy as soon as that person stops behaving as such. People talk too much. Humans aren't descended from monkeys. They come for parrots. God, in His infinite wisdom, and perhaps overwhelmed by the avalanche of requests from so many tormented souls, did not answer. Silencing their hearts and their souls to the point where...they forgot the words with which to express their real feelings. People are evil. Not evil, moronic, which isn't quite the same thing. Evil presupposes a moral decision. The words with which a child's heart is poisoned, through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul. Marriage and family are only what we make of them. Sometimes what matters isn't what one gives but what one gives up. Destiny is usually just around the corner. But what destiny does not do home visits. You have to go for it. Just an innocent boy who thought he had conquered the world in an hour but didn't yet realize that he could lose it again in an instant. Keep your dreams. You never know when you might need them. Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen. Waiting is the rust of the soul. Sometimes we think people are like lottery tickets, that they're there to make our most absurd dreams come true. While you're working you don't have to look life in the eye. Most of us have the good or bad fortune of seeing our livs fall apart so slowly we barely notice. Time goes faster the more hollow it is. I learned to confuse routine with normality. The world war, which had polluted the entire globe with a stench of corpses that would never go away. The clear, unequivocal lucidity of madmen who have escaped the hypocrisy of having to abide by a reality that makes no sense. A story is a letter the author writes to himself to tell himself things he would be unable to discover otherwise. The art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day. [speaking of television:] The novel is dead and buried...there'll be no more need for books, or churches, or anything.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    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, 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, pages flickering with candles and drank a glass of wine in solitude, completely enthralled in the world of 1940's Barcelona. I walked home from the train at night and found myself saying the characters names beneath my umbrella, hoping no one would hear me talking to myself, but they were, quite simply, too beautiful to ignore: Julian Carax, Daniel Semepere, Beatriz...Tomas, Penelope Aldaya and Nuria Monfort. In a movie this would be too many people, but for this novel they were perfectly seamed, each point of view more entralling and taxing than the one before. Most refreshing, clearly the author wasn't poisoned with the desire to simply keep the reader in the dark: instead this story, with attention, was something you could figure out--because that's the way life is. The mystery itself isn't supposed to shock you intensely into thinking a book is good, that's a dirty trick. Instead, the STORY carried you. You cared about the story and it was a tragity and mystery all the same, simply because you were invested in these people and what became of them. To know them so intimately from childhood to adulthood and old age, to know them through various degrees of point of view seperation--to hear there is no Penelope, and then to know she is a sister, a love, but to some non-existant...well, it's gothic literature at it's very best. With a book like this I am almost, ALMOST tempted to give up my most pedantic and pretentious thoughts, paralells and character development--this story is a story and it's just that good. It is the Phantom of the Opera, those dark tunnels and pressure points, a lake with candles or drawing rooms with no fire in the grate and crazy wives being stored in attics over head. This is, quite literally a timeless tale, and yes, reading it will make you smarter, more interested, more cultured (the back of the book includes a walking tour of Barcelona. I missed Barcelona but I am quite determined to go now, with my copy of A Shadow of the Wind in hand, just like wanting desperately to visit Eastern Europe after I finished The Historian and see it all), but more importantly real life simply fades to black as you become completely, totally and fantastically helpless and wrapped up in the lives of others. While there are fun hybrids--Crash Topics in Calamity Physics, for one, which combine a courses, authors, quotes and plot lines from a thousand famous novels, this book really makes that unnecessary. This is a classic without any help, no cheat cheats necessary. Read it. Read it. Read it. **I write on books and other stuff at www.snapshotnarrative.tumblr.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tanja (Tanychy) St. Delphi/James

    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.” 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.” - “The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you've already stopped loving that person forever.” - “A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.” - “There are few reasons for telling the truth, but for lying the number is infinite.” - “In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.” Do you now? 2. It’s impossible. I’ll try to describe it. It’s not the same feeling but the result is. You know that moment, or better said that feeling, when you see someone who means a lot to you and you have that beautiful feeling inside of you. Now try to describe it. You can’t? I know. 3. And last but not least.... Please allow me to quote the author: “Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later — no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget — we will return.” And this is mine.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Teo

    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 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 quotes as well, definitely a good thing as far as I'm concerned. So after about 50 pages in, I was ready to love this book as I seldom loved another book before. But as the story progressed, that resolution started to diminish slowly but surely. Ironically, one the more obvious flaws is Zafon's overuse of stylistic writing. It seems like everyone acts or talks in a very elaborate manner, even in the simplest of situations, and this can really become tiresome after a while. The plot also isn't as ingenious as the hype would make you believe. Zafon does a good job creating a sense of mystery early on, and there are obvious parallels between the main character Daniel Sempere, and Julian Carax, the writer whose past he is trying to uncover. But ultimately, the stories of Daniel and Julian are seperate ones, and they just happen to interconnect with one another more by chance than by design. By far the most troublesome flaw is the way the mysteries are "resolved". All too often, answers are given by having some side character or another tell his or her story for pages. Nowhere is this more evident than at the end of the book, where literally every single detail is revealed in the form of a (very) long letter, even details which the writer of the letter never could have known, since she wasn't even involved in those events. It's as if Zafon did not have a clue or the motivation to write a logical conclusion, and decided to just dump all the information in one place. With a bit more attention to actual plot and character development, this could have been one of my favourite books. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed reading the Shadow of the Wind. It's just a shame that it falls some way short of its potential.

  5. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    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 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 experience such a well-told story. truly a masterpiece in every way possible. ↠ 5 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon Cox

    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 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 told that to be a writer you have to make everything as descriptive as possible, and then he decided that meant that each noun had to be modified three, always three, and only three times. Argh. Second. The author must have looked up every word he could in a thesaurus and chosen the one that was most obscure or had the most syllables. Who is he trying to impress? Maybe it was the translator's fault? Maybe not. Either way, this style is used even when describing what the ten year old character sees and says. Which brings me to my next point. Third. Every character in this book speaks with exactly the same voice. All you hear is the authors voice, not any different characterizations. And that voice demonstrates the problems I described in my first and second points. But that's not all. There is an even worse, and definitely fatal, problem with this book. Fourth. This story was written as a mystery. Nine years lurch by as the character slowly tries to unravel the details of the main conflict. I actually don't have a problem with this in theory. Unfortunately, after three quarters of the book, and numerous new characters, the mystery is no clearer. So what does the author do about it? He has one of the characters write a 30 page (or so) letter to the main character telling him what really happened. Ta-da. The mystery is solved. The author is such a terrible writer that he can't even solve his own mystery. He has to use a cheap cop-out to clear everything up. I can't respect that. Sorry. I can't believe so many other people have. Boycott the book. Really.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mark Lawrence

    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 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 readers are becoming more scarce by the day.” Zafón is a master of prose, he is eminently quotable even in translation. The story is set in Barcelona and stretches from the turn of the 19th century to the sixties, though focusing most heavily in post civil war Spain recovering in the 40s and 50s. It's a bitter sweet story, as much about the slow acceptance of loss as about fighting against it or finding happiness. "Most of us have the good or bad fortune of seeing our lives fall apart so slowly we barely notice it." The setting is vividly brought to life. Many of the characters live in poverty or close to it, and the ventures into Paris bring to mind Orwell's descriptions. Barcelona is the star of the piece though. "one of the many places in Barcelona where the nineteenth century had not yet been served its eviction notice" Shadow of the Wind is a love story, or two love stories, or several love stories to be honest. We focus on Daniel, a young man growing up, and becoming obsessed with the story of another man, a writer whose young life (decades earlier) is unfolded for us through Daniel's investigations. Both of them finding difficult and potentially tragic love. "Her voice was pure crystal, transparent and so fragile I feared that her words would break if I interrupted them." The Shadow of the Wind has a lot to say about books and reading, rather less to say about the business of writing though. "Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you." "Novels, as everyone knew, were for women and for people with nothing better to do." It's a complex interwoven plot, not without threat and violence, with a series of reveals that undermine what you think you know. A fascinating and lovely read, and a nice break from the fantasy books that I have read almost exclusively over the last 5 years. Give it a try! Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes …..

  8. 4 out of 5

    Maxwell

    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. 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. The writing is impeccable. The weaving together of so many storylines and characters is remarkable. I can't gush enough about this book, so I will just say EVERYONE GO READ THIS NOW PLEASE. You won't regret it. First read: May 12-17, 2014- Everything about this novel was captivating. The story follows Daniel, a young boy, whose father is a bookseller. He is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and allowed to pick out one book that he is expected to 'save' or, in a sense, remember throughout his life. He picks a novel by Julian Carax titled "The Shadow of the Wind," and is immediately sucked into the story. From there, the novel follows Daniel as he begins to learn more about the illusive author, Julian Carax, and about the web of lies and intrigue that he gets trapped in. The writing is absolutely gorgeous. The book is full of incredible quotes, wonderful, beautifully strung out sentences. I never underline in books. This book, however, required a pencil at the ready at all times, because I couldn't pass up underlining some amazing parts. Though the plot isn't super strong, there is a mysterious and magical quality to the book that propels you through it, page after page. The characters feel so real, and thus their lives seem to be playing out for you in such a real way that you are concerned and invested, wanting to know what happens next. I loved the setting of Barcelona. This is also a book translated from Spanish, which is even more impressive on the part of the translator. I think the translation was incredible. Overall, this is a book that I will return to again in my life, I am sure. It is captivating and a new favorite. 5/5.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    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 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 new, breathe in the perfume of those pages, tell your friends and family you're going to be busy for a few days and disappear into it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    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 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 there's so many astute and haunting lines; Zafón is truly a talented writer who I certainly see myself reading more from. My only issue throughout the book was the way the mystery unfolded, but it was more of a user error because I took so long to read this book that between sittings, I would forget all the details about which character is who. Also, the perspective jumping from character to character could be a bit startling, but by the end of this book when I spent the last 50 pages sobbing and hugging my cat as I read on, I couldn't give a single damn about this minor storytelling blip. Very few books earn the title of a masterpiece from me, but this is one of them. It takes you on a complete journey with characters so lifelike and human, eccentric and lovely, twisted and vile. I foresee this being a book that, when I pass it in a book shop, I will stroke its spine lovingly and remember the hours I spent cuddled with it, lost in its alternating gloomy and hopeful moods.

  11. 5 out of 5

    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 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 story of good vs. evil; driven by jealousy and shrouded in the unknown. I saw some complaints that this book is slow. I can understand that - it is not a light book and it is not a quick read. But, the payoff from getting immersed in the thick narrative is totally worth the extra time in the end. Lovers of books, lovers of historical fiction, lovers of mysteries with shocking twists, lovers of complex romance/revenge story lines, lovers of ultimate good vs evil battles - step right in to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books . . . and lose yourself in The Shadow of the Wind.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ❄️Nani❄️

    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 that same 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 that same day. Four days later I’m sat dumbstruck, simultaneously satisfied and heartbroken. It’s a beautiful thing when fate intervenes. Isn’t it? Thus, I come to you half a year later - that's right, it took me half a year to get here- BUT worry not for I remember every detail as if I read it yesterday. -- Set in Barcelona, in the summer of 1945 - following the Spanish Civil War, the novel tells the story of Daniel Sempere, who is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father, a secondhand book merchant. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a secret place, where a huge collection of books that have been forgotten or have fallen into oblivion is kept. Daniel selects a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax, an author who seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth and so have all his published books. Daniel's copy of book seems to be the only one left in existence. So begins an incredible journey that carries Daniel through a gothic city filled with fantastic bookstores, exotic cafes, abandoned mansions and spirit-haunted graveyards. -- The book itself has two main stories: that of Julian Carax and Daniel Sempere, written in the first person by both. And as the story threads its way into Daniel's life, the lives of both begin to intertwine. Daniel sees, bears uncanny resemblances to that of the protagonist in The Shadow of the Wind but in order to uncover the mystery as to how and why he'll have to dig deeper into Carax's biography. Zafón spins a web of intrigue so thick that it ensnares the reader from the very beginning. -- The characters were exuberant, well-written and larger than life in their tragedies as in their joys and desires. The book is populated with a cast of characters filled with dark and mysterious pasts, the tortured souls, guilt-ridden lovers, doomed and solitary eccentrics and more. But the most interesting part —second to Carax’s past— was discovering how all of their stories were interwoven together. Daniel isn't what you’d call heroic, but he's a sympathetic figure and very human in his failings, and beneath the novel’s colourful facade is also a touching story of Daniel’s relationship with his father, the proprietor of a highly respected bookstore that is barely surviving as readers are decreasing at an alarming rate. I loved his father and their bond so much that I was constantly terrified that something would happen to jeopardise their relationship. Fermin Romero de Torres was definitely one of the most interesting characters in here. Imprisoned and tortured for being on the wrong side of the war, he was saved from beggary by Daniel through a ‘random’ encounter and becomes Daniel’s advisor, protector and confidante - as well, help him dig into the murky past of the people connected Carax. He's eccentric, clever and charming and his deep friendship and loyalty to Daniel, combined with his sharp wit and cunning are the comic relief of the dark and gloomy tone of the book. Julian Carax’s story, in my opinion, was the most heartbreaking of all (and there are plenty of depressing stories here, I tell you). He had the odds stacked against him right from the start that the poor guy didn’t stand a chance. His dark, mysterious character takes monumental twists and turns as his story slowly unravels to be one of tortured past and full of heartache. And then there’s Fumero, the villain of ages. Thinking about him gives me chest pains much less writing about him. Just know that he plays a big role in the lives of many of the characters and... he’s the devil’s spawn. Suffice it to say, I loath him. TSoTW is an atmospheric book full of passion and revenge, heartbreaking love, grave disappointments and mysteries whose layers peel away ever so slowly. The world is corrupt and cruel where the scum come out at the top and the inexorability of human destinies are grimmer than any ghostly stories... it's also about a bit of redemption. Read it is all I can say, my friends. READ. IT.

  13. 4 out of 5

    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 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 constant whining reminded me of some 18th Century hero (someone saves me from François-René de Chateaubriand, please), to the twisting-moustache villain whose mother, you guessed right, was a crazy bitch (mwahahahaha). As for the women (OMG, the WOMEN), they're either sexual creatures (often vile and manipulative, because of course *roll eyes*) or solely conceived for the Great Goal of Bearing children (or assuming their care). It's pretty simple, actually : the good girls are those who get pregnant or are desperate for it, and all women are portrayed through their looks. All of these characters were flat and forgettable in my book. ✘ Blatant sexism pouring through every page, and before you mention it, I KNOW, the society in 1945/1950 wasn't kind on women. I do know that, yet I don't believe that the portrayal of sexist behavior had to be so IN YOUR FACE. In the past I've read historical novels that let me furious about the way women were treated and categorized into little boxes (mother, virgin, whore, if you're asking) but in The Shadow of the Wind I never felt that the issue was handled or acknowledged, or barely (they do mention it in other men, but for me they were no better). It was just THERE. All the time, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to care about characters - Fermin and Daniel, for example - who constantly objectify women, when they're not busy expressing stereotypes like, "women can't do Maths", or, "women who let you touch them the first time are whores", etc, etc. I read the French translation, so I'm not going to write down the quotes, but they are EVERYWHERE. I felt like drowning. ✘ The instalove, anyone? Far from me the intent of spoiling the story to you, so I'll just say this : there are three couples in this story, and the THREE OF THEM suffer from major instalove (the kind where people see each other once, talk twice, and share iloveyous). What the hell?! Again, if this book was called The Storm and The Thorns, and some generic YA bullshit, it would have annoyed me, because I cannot feel invested in a romance if there's neither growth nor depth. Why in the world should I feel differently this time? I do not. Honestly? I couldn't care less. ✘ The resolution of the intrigue did not satisfy me, because I found the way it was revealed rather lazy. Sure, I did not expect it, but after having remained in the dark during 80% of the book, I was a little disappointed by the avalanche of information that was thrown in my face, in a info-dumping fashion. Even with the interesting (view spoiler)[meta narration (hide spoiler)] , it felt like such a cop-out. ✔ The atmosphere is darkly enticing, captivating, even, and for me the real MC is Barcelona. Indeed I couldn't look away from the fascinating picture Carlos Ruiz Zafón created, from the vivid slices of life put into black and white letters. I wish the descriptions of Paris would have reached this level of brilliance, but I didn't really mind. Albeit the difficult times described, reading The Shadow of the Wind made me want to come back there, and I probably will very soon. ✔ The writing, if not free of some cheesy figures of speech - but it could be the translation - is addictive and compelling. From the first page I was hooked, and my interest didn't falter before reaching the second half (but I already explained why). ► All in all, The Shadow of the Wind was a disappointment for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but in the end, the story didn't convince me, and even the message - no matter how great it was, or wanted to be - felt a bit superficial because spoiled by the lack of depth of the characters. *Shrugs* For more of my reviews, please visit:

  14. 5 out of 5

    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 written "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 written by the enigmatic Julián Carax, an author whose life and work is shrouded in dark mystery. Over time, the book awakens this socially awkward boy to fresh possibilities and new friendships in a city still handcuffed to its recent history. Daniel, himself, describes the novel thus: "It is a story of love, of hatred and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind." In the honeymoon period of my read, I was already thinking it to be one of the best books I've read in a very long time and, after a handful of chapters, I was wishing that Goodreads would allow 5-star-plus ratings for special books such as this. The author's character imagery is up there with Márquez and Rushdie. The story has heart and soul and it nobly champions the underdog in an unjust world. Look out for nasty piece of work, Chief Inspector Francisco Javier Fumero, he of the pencil moustache and greasy grin; very much the bête noire of the piece. Záfon's expressive prose and finespun magical realism held me in a dizzy state of veneration and had me purring in my armchair like a pampered pussycat. But, oh! Alas, damnation and gadzooks! Did you hear me? Gadzooks, I said!! The author somehow snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing his dazzling story to become bogged down by a warehouse load of wearisome narrative in the middle orders of the piece. "Get on with it, Záfon!" I shouted. (He didn't hear me). And where's a book defibrillator when you need one? It's a real shame because this book is infused with brilliance; Carlos Ruiz Záfon is incontestably touched by greatness. In my humble opinion, this magical rites-of-passage/good-versus-evil sprawl of a novel would have easily merited that notional 5-star-plus rating, were it not for the drawn-out tedium of its meandering epicentre. Editing out a hundred or more pages would've done this a power of good. I'm still awarding it 4.5, rounded up to 5. Its sublimity outweighs its imperfections. And listen up, my Goodreads' brothers, sisters, funsters, pseuds, bibliophiles and savants. Daniel Sempere's book epiphany is one which will resonate with each and every one of you. For each of us there is one book that has been waiting for us from before we were born. I wonder which one is yours? : )

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lola

    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 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 books - the place where books are brought for their final rest after the world has forgotten their existence - and told by his father to pick one to always care for and protect. He chooses The Shadow of The Wind and his life is forever changed by his fascination with the book, its author and his determination to uncover the mystery surrounding the doomed fate of all other works by the author. What fascinated me most as Daniel started to get entangled in the mysterious web of the book and its author's history, was how Daniels life began to mirror Carax (the author of the book). The writing is almost poetic yet simple to follow and enjoy, their are subplots that run alongside the major plot so the book isn't one dimensional and boring. Overall this is a fascinating read that is sure to take you on an adventure that will make you wish there were more pages to read after you turn the last page. Highly recommended for those who are not afraid to explore other worlds or allow a book to engulf their senses completely.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    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 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 ode to books that's not so much Gothic literature as it's a telenovela, a trait that's only exacerbated by Jonathan Davis' melodramatic delivery as narrator. Female characters fall into one of two categories: either beautiful and voluptuous, with tremulous breasts, shapely calves, and a body suitable for impregnating, or unattractive old women whose haggard appearance deems them unsuitable for bedding. Every sex scene is so awkward, I found myself repeatedly wondering if this book was penned by a virgin. Death is a constant threat - at every turn, for every character - until it bears no gravity. Zafón: *mentions death* Me: *rolls eyes, yawns* The opening pages had me worried, because of one particular detail - one detail - that told me this would be a book I wasn't liable to get along with. I should have heeded my intuition and saved myself eighteen grueling hours of slogging through this tiresome audiobook. The opening scene that planted the first seed of concern: On that June morning, I woke up screaming at first light. My heart was pounding in my chest as if it feared that my soul wanted to carve its way out and run off down the stairs. My father hurried into my room and he held me in his arms, trying to calm me. [. . .] We looked at each other in the half-light, searching for words that didn't exist. For the first time, I realized my father was growing old. He stood up and drew the curtains to let in the pale glint of dawn. "Come, Daniel, get dressed. I want to show you something," he said. "Now? At five o'clock in the morning?" I ask you, when has a child ever been aware of, or concerned with, what time in the morning they've woken their parents? That line reeks of contrived drama. I wanted to like this book, truly, but it wasn't the right fit for me. Between the bloated writing, sexism, and exhausting abundance of drama, reaching the final page was an absolute chore.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Warwick

    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 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 kind of profound parable, but the only result is that the characters are just implausible symbols. They are too bland even to hate – unlike the book itself, which I loathed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    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 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 interested. This book did not have that balance. It had the formula, it just didn't execute things well enough, in my opinion. To be fair, that could be because this book was originally in Spanish. It could have lost a lot in translation. I know it lost something, actually, because some of the sentences are rather awkwardly phrased. But Arturo Perez-Reverte's gothic-esque novels were also in Spanish, and they still had their magic in translation. So, I don't forgive this guy enough to finish the book. Which I didn't, by the way. Got about halfway through because I was hoping it would get better, but it was still not grabbing me, so. Onto the next!

  19. 5 out of 5

    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 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 end of the tunnel. Good lordie, miss molly, good gracious my angel, good heavens dear father! What a journey it was through the antique bookshop in Barcelona on Calle Santa Anna, to the streets of the city where the memories spilled like blood flowing like rain water though the gutters, where souls got ripped, raped and destroyed by the brutality of the war. Nothing feeds forgetfulness better than war, Daniel. We all keep quiet and they try to convince us that what we’ve seen, what we’ve done, what we’ve learned about ourselves and about others, is an illusion, a passing nightmare. Wars have no memory, and nobody has the courage to understand them until there are no voices left to tell what happened, until the moment comes when we no longer recognize them and they return, with another face and another name, to devour what they left behind. 1945. Barcelona Spain. It was a book, Shadows of the Wind by one Julián Carax, which brought the history alive for young Daniel. Not because it was explained in the book, but because through mysterious events after reading the book. It was a rare book, which reverberated quickly through the echoe chambers of the world of book collectors. It immediately draw attention as the last book of the author. Daniel Sempere made a promise never to tell where he he found it and protect it as his most precious possession. Daniel's father: This is a place of mystery, Daniel, a sanctuary. 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.The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, hidden behind heavy bolted doors and high walls, brought voices alive of authors passed and present, who needed their story discovered and told. Brave, curious, but innocent, ten-year-old Daniel Sempere did not foresee the consequences when he opened that particular book to read. Nor could the effect it would have on him and his father's life be calculated.Clara: I had never known the pleasure of reading, of exploring the recesses of the soul, of letting myself be carried away by imagination, beauty, and the mystery of fiction and language. For me all those things were born with that novel.And so it was for Daniel as well. People populated Daniel's life from different walks of life. His journey to become a man, would cross paths with villains and angels; carers and destroyers. His life would forever be connected to those who survived the manslaughter of war. When peace finally came, it smelled of the sort of peace that haunts prisons and cemeteries, a shroud of silence and shame that rots one’s soul and never goes away. Along the way, a pathos and empathy grew for the people who managed to survive. A tragicomedy, a suspense thriller, a historical fictional tale - a culmination of the voices and ambiance in books such as: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez; Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières; The Time in Between by María Dueñas; Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom; Picasso's War by Russell Martin; For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway The Return by Victoria Hislop The Perfume Garden by Kate Lord Brown Diction, motivation, actions - it all flows along the prose adding context to bravery and courage, unlocking the strange chain of destiny between them. To these people, hope was cruel, it had no conscious, and words were sometimes better of in their prison of memories. Daniel had the power to keep these voice on paper alive, to allow them to be remembered. And then there is the backdrop of love in all its despicable, deceiving, destructive or honorable definitions. It meanders trough the labyrinth of the The Cemetery of Forgotten Books as well as the lives of the people who survived to tell their stories to Daniel. It was a constant reminder of what makes us all vulnerable and victorious in life. For Daniel, it was a fast, uncompromising road to adulthood in which no secrets remained hidden. For those who wanted to share their tales, words became a sort of melancholic revengeNurieta Monford:I began to dress like a pious widow or one of those women who seem to confuse sunlight with mortal sin. I went to work with my hair drawn back into a bun and no makeup. Despite my tactics, Sanmartí continued to shower me with lascivious remarks accompanied by his oily, putrid smile. It was a smile full of disdain, typical of self-important jerks who hang like stuffed sausages from the top of all corporate ladders.While the first snow of winter dropped like tears of light on the Plaza de Cataluña, an old man, trying to catch the snow with his gloves, wished Daniel good luck, his eyes the color of gold, like magic coins at the bottom of a fountain. What else could Daniel do but clung to the blessing and run ... The thing about words is that it takes us prisoner when rolled out by experienced wordsmiths. This is one of those moments, although I must admit that only the beginning chapters, almost to the middle, and the last third of the book finally captured me beyond imagination. I almost gave up, but the magic in the prose propelled me forward. Relentlessly. I just realized why not anyone can write a book, but why everyone, like yours truly, can get lost in the melody flowing from the magical alphabetic strings, the symbiotic sounds of voices on paper. Sometimes it is this music that kept me reading, surpassing the moral of the story. The quality of thought and execution in this novel confirmed the addiction of words and books. Humor and hope are strange bedfellows. It may manifest in the intimations of paradise ... a last dance with Eros ... Happiness in every which way had a purpose, even in galleries of despair, even softened by ecumenical disguise. Sincere laughter came. In 1966 it all made finally sense to Daniel Sempere. Doom and gloom have a counterbalance. A very good one. All it needed was time. And good readers to follow the light to the last full stop of the tale. The end.

  20. 5 out of 5

    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, "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, and the contrasts of idealistic innocence with the weariness of experience, all against the rich tapestry of the city full of beauty and secrets and vividness, all told in a lavish idiomatic language that makes you forget you're reading a translation. And over all of this gothic surreal passion turned into words hangs a real grim presence of those in power who can come after you whenever they please, and who will try to silence you whenever they feel like it. "I told her how until that moment I had not understood that this was a story about lonely people, about absence and loss, and that that was why I had taken refuge in it until it became confused with my own life, like someone who has escaped into the pages of a novel because those whom he needs to love seem nothing more than ghosts inhabiting the mind of a stranger." This is really a story within a story. Narrated by a young Daniel Sempere, it chronicles his transformation from a child to a young man in a Francoist post-war Spain, his loves and obsessions, his brushes with the world of mysteries and reality - both of these worlds equally dangerous and fascinating. But Daniel is really a medium through which we learn the heart and soul of this book - the story of Julián Carax, a man who wrote a book that finds its way into Daniel's life, a man whose past and present shape the course of all the events in this narrative, Julián Carax who seems to be the embodiment of both driving force and destructive force in the pages of this novel. “There are few reasons for telling the truth, but for lying the number is infinite.” This book left me in an enchanted daze, and I'm still struggling to figure out why or how. What was it exactly that made it so easy for me to overlook the imperfections and blemishes of this story - the not-uncommon sexist male gaze, the telenovela-like melodramatic developments, the sometimes strange choices of inserting exposition into the narrative flow. "A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise." And the only answers I can find are these - it was the fantastic engrossing atmosphere and the sincere unabashed love of literature, combined with the language that sings to you in all its exuberant beauty. The atmosphere is built on a classic Gothic setting. The foreboding darkness haunts the story, complete with foreshadowings, strange haunted old mansions, dark secrets waiting to be unearthed, feverish passions and dark past tormenting the characters, emotional epistolary confessions, menacing villains, and dark stormy nights in abundance. Shadows are everywhere, and things lurk in them, be sure of that. And destiny seems to reach in with its meddling hand and place things in necessary to it order. And the tortured, passionate love stories - oh yes, they are here, too. "Memories are worse than bullets.” And yet the framing setting of 1950s grounds the Gothic atmosphere, forces it into reality. And the pervasive sharp humor makes the story quite self-aware of its own stylized nature, making the elements that can easily turn annoying into fascinating bits instead. "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." Daniel, a son of a bookshop owner, has a special connection with books - after all, he was introduced by his father to the mysterious place known as Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a place in the heart of Barcelona where abandoned books are stored, a place from where he is allowed to 'adopt' a book - and what calls to him is the book by an obscure writer Julián Carax, a Barcelonian himself, a man long-dead, a man whose remaining books are hunted and burned by a mysterious stranger. "I began to believe that Julián was not a man, he was an illness." It's Julián Carax, his elusive past and present, the enigma that surrounds the man and is impossible for Daniel to resist that form the cornerstone, the centerpiece of this novel. Julián, a tragic hero of the Gothic novel, whose life and character are slowly revealed bit by bit, until you realize you are just as enchanted with him as the people who have met him seem to be - and all that without Julián ever making an appearance himself. And by the time we see the warning signs of Julián's single-minded destructive obsession, it is too late to turn back, and we begin to understand the strange obsession with him that more than one character carries. "There are worse prisons than words." This book is an example of the journey, not the destination. The plot twists are not pivotal. The reveals that come are not that important, and there are plenty of clues for the reader to come to the conclusions well before they are revealed. What is important, however, is allowing yourself to step into the world Zafón creates, into the early- and mid-century Barcelona, under the shadow of gothic buildings, into the world that no longer exists. Lovely, lovely book; not perfect but engrossing and beautiful, and well-deserving of the attention it has received. Reading it is a quite an experience. 4 stars. "Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget — we will return."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    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 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. Make room on your book shelves for this one.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    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 are 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 are fortunate to visit the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ for the first time, is that they get to choose a book to adopt. Daniel on his first visit chooses ‘Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax, or the book chooses him. Daniel along with his father, his father’s friend Barcelo and his niece Clara, investigate what happened to the author, only to realise that this is a mysterious and heart-breaking story and this book that Daniel owns may be the last surviving version of ‘Shadow of the Wind’. Their research uncovers the dramatic events that befell Julain Carax and his beloved Penelope. Years later, out walking one night through a misty Barcelona, a mysterious rasping voice calls Daniel from the shadows and offers any amount of money for the book. By match-light, Daniel sees a burnt, grotesque, and mutilated face telling him he wants the book, and for his sake and the sake of his friend Clara he better give it to him. When Daniel asks what he wants to do with the books, the voice whispers “Burn them”. Needless to say, Daniel keeps the book and searches for the history and truth behind it and its author. It is a wonderfully written story with subtle complexities and layers, leaving the reader feeling a blanket of chilling apprehension as you urge Daniel forward to uncover the good, the bad and the retribution surrounding Carax. The characters offer depth and range, and you’re not quite sure what intentions are genuine and where your sympathies will lie at the end. The hot, misty, atmospheric Barcelona is extremely well characterised and seems to seep in through your skin which adds to the suspense and mystery. One of my favourite books of all time and the first of a fantastic series. I would highly recommend this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    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 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 beyond just seeming like a book I would like, and I kept wanting to like it a lot more than I did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    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 *****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 the narrator was wonderful, the little music parts while reading were wonderful, I just couldn't get into it. I really don't think it was my mood either even though I'm fighting a reading slump. I just didn't care for any of the characters or what was going on. It's a shame but I can't love them all, but I am glad for those that do love the book =)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dem

    The Shadow of the Wind is wonderfully atmospheric, descriptive and a totally compelling read. Barcelona 1945 and the aftermath of the Spanish civil war. An antiquarian book dealers son called Daniel mourns the loss of his mother. His father takes him to the secret and mysterious cemetery of Forgotten books, Daniels choses a book called the Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and when he sets out to discover the authors other works, he makes a shocking discovery and here the story begins. A The Shadow of the Wind is wonderfully atmospheric, descriptive and a totally compelling read. Barcelona 1945 and the aftermath of the Spanish civil war. An antiquarian book dealers son called Daniel mourns the loss of his mother. His father takes him to the secret and mysterious cemetery of Forgotten books, Daniels choses a book called the Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and when he sets out to discover the authors other works, he makes a shocking discovery and here the story begins. A historical fiction novel that for me read more like a gothic style mystery which is my favourite type of novel. I really enjoyed the sense of time and place in the novel and enjoyed reading about landmarks in Barcelona which I really want to visit on finishing this novel. I love books about books and this one is unique and different, It’s a quiet sort of novel and yet it totally absorbing and a really well crafted mystery. A lot of characters to keep track of in the novel, and at times I felt I struggled with keeping track of all the characters but this but it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. A Gripping tale, suspenseful, atmospheric and extremely well written novel for lovers of books about books.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tea Jovanović

    I remember taking a Canadian edition with me to vacation in Dubai... And when we went to see Golden souk, instead of, like true female, enjoying all the displayed golden wonders, I found first bench and finished the book, while my family ohed and ahed over so much gold in one place... one of the five best books I've read in last 10 years

  27. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    A fun read, intriguing, fast-paced, with interesting and engaging characters.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Raeleen Lemay

    DNF'd on page 221 In theory, I should have loved this book. Structurally and plot-wise it reads sort of like a Spanish version of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but I just didn't connect with this story or the writing. Since I was still curious to see how the book ends, I read the plot summary on Wikipedia (I know, I'm terrible) and after doing that I'm glad I decided to stop reading. The book certainly goes in a direction that I didn't see coming, but I don't think it would be worth slogging DNF'd on page 221 In theory, I should have loved this book. Structurally and plot-wise it reads sort of like a Spanish version of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, but I just didn't connect with this story or the writing. Since I was still curious to see how the book ends, I read the plot summary on Wikipedia (I know, I'm terrible) and after doing that I'm glad I decided to stop reading. The book certainly goes in a direction that I didn't see coming, but I don't think it would be worth slogging through another 200+ pages. This was definitely a case of me not being the right reader for this particular book, so by no means take this review as a reason not to give it a try! The atmosphere of Barcelona was great, but that was the only part of this book that really spoke to me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy | shoutame

    Where do I begin? This is by far my favourite book of the year so far and I have already bought the second in the series so I can quench my obsession with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's gorgeous writing. The story begins in Barcelona just after the Spanish Civil War, a young boy named Daniel lives alone with his Father and helps run the family bookshop. One day Daniel's Father takes him to a place knows as 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' - a labyrinthine place completely packed with beautiful and rare Where do I begin? This is by far my favourite book of the year so far and I have already bought the second in the series so I can quench my obsession with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's gorgeous writing. The story begins in Barcelona just after the Spanish Civil War, a young boy named Daniel lives alone with his Father and helps run the family bookshop. One day Daniel's Father takes him to a place knows as 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' - a labyrinthine place completely packed with beautiful and rare books. Daniel is allowed to spend some time there and pick out one book that he can to keep, this is how he come across 'The Shadow of the Wind' - a gripping novel written by one Julian Carax. After falling in love with the book Daniel sets out on a mission to find out more about it's illusive author, he also discovers that a mysterious cloaked figure is hell bent on destroying any remaining books by Julian Carax, including the one that Daniel now owns. We are then thrown into an epic adventure with twists and turns at every corner, Zafon tells such a brilliantly thought out story that you won't want to put down! The themes explored in this novel are too many to list but some more prominent ones include; forbidden love, murder, adultery and family ties. Zafon spins such a intricate tale that won't fail to surprise! I laughed, I cried and also found myself longing to be working alongside Daniel as he uncovers the mysteries surrounding 'The Shadow of the Wind'. Zafon's writing has to be one of the most beautiful I have ever read. I was constantly finding myself sitting back from the book just to take in the profound nature of what was written on the page. I was taken aback by the flow and poetic feel that permeates this novel, this all the more surprising as this book was originally written in Spanish, I can't even begin to imagine how striking this novel must be to those who can read it the way the Zafon intended it to be. The characters were fantastically built up, my favourite would have to be Fermin, Daniel's partner in crime, who aids his younger friend in his quest - Fermin has to be one of the most intellectually funny characters that I have ever read. The conclusion of the story was great and I can't wait to read the next in this brilliant series of books. A definite five out of five and I highly recommend to anyone who is a lover of books and literature surrounding books!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This novel started off very promising, but soon devolved into bad writing and ridiculous plotting. I finally had to abandon it after 200 pages because I didn't want to waste another minute on it. I'm going to give the writer the benefit of the doubt and wonder if this was poorly translated from the Spanish. The story is set in Barcelona in 1945. What I liked about the beginning was the idea of a young boy being drawn into a secret world of readers. Daniel was 10 when his father took him to the This novel started off very promising, but soon devolved into bad writing and ridiculous plotting. I finally had to abandon it after 200 pages because I didn't want to waste another minute on it. I'm going to give the writer the benefit of the doubt and wonder if this was poorly translated from the Spanish. The story is set in Barcelona in 1945. What I liked about the beginning was the idea of a young boy being drawn into a secret world of readers. Daniel was 10 when his father took him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which was a dusty and hidden library, and he was told to choose one book to protect. Daniel fell in love with an out-of-print novel and tries to find out more about the mysterious author. "Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later -- no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget -- we will return. For me those enchanted pages will always be the ones I found among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books." Daniel soon finds out that the book he chose is valuable because it is the very last copy -- all the others have been burned. There's no point in summarizing the rest of the plot because it quickly becomes absurd. Absurdity is always relative, of course, and the degree to which disbelief must be suspended varies by genre. This book was grounded at the beginning, but the mystery aspect was so silly that it became farcical. I had high hopes for this novel but was very disappointed. I thought it might be similar to the modern gothic style of "The Thirteenth Tale," which I really liked, but the bad writing made me quickly tire of it. There were too many cliches, too many florid descriptions and too many long speeches from preposterous characters. Looking at reviews from GR friends, I see everything from 1 stars to 5 stars on this book. It is possible that if I come back to this at another time and in another mood, I may like it more, but for now, it's just OK.

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