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Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (Thoughts)

October 20, 2011

From the author’s website:
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax.
But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from The Shadow of the Wind, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind.

I’m sure I’ve heard of this book around the blogosphere, but it wasn’t until the girls at book club were gushing about it that I decided I should give it a read. That was back in August and my hold at the library didn’t come in until the end of September, which turned out to be perfect. Fall provides perfect reading weather for a book like this. Every evening it poured outside, I let out a ‘Woohoo!’ and curled up next to the window with The Shadow of the Wind and immersed myself in the book.

The Shadow of the Wind is a full on Gothic novel and the format of it reminded me of The Historian – the search for clues, stories within stories. But my favourite thing about it, is that it portrayed books as being something dangerous. They’re not passive, inanimate objects, but a living part of a bigger history – that the mere mention of a title can stir up such a frenzy that people actually feared for their lives, and rightly so.

don't blink

One of the creepiest parts of it, though, had to do with associations outside of the novel. The big, rambling, decrepit mansion that is central to the story has a large front courtyard that is strewn with crumbling angel statues, including one that had ended up in the fountain with one arm stretched out in front of it. I know! WEEPING ANGLES EVERYWHERE! The description was meant to be creepy, and the thought of weeping angels (in my opinion, the scariest of all Doctor Who monsters) just increased it tenfold.

I really liked The Shadow of the Wind, but I think my expectations were too high going in to it. It was good and entertaining and creepy, but it wasn’t amazing as I thought it would be. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good gothic novel, especially along the lines of The Historian.

My rating: 8/10
Soundtrack Saturday

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 7:17 am

    That was a great episode of Doctor Who! This book sounds like a great find too.

  2. October 20, 2011 8:17 am

    I picked this book up a long time ago before hearing everyone rave about it, but never read it. I almost chucked it in the charity pile and would have if I hadn’t joined Goodreads and heard every other person rave about it so I rescued it and it’s still there, sitting on my shelf.

  3. October 20, 2011 5:16 pm

    I went in with lowish expectations and loved it. It’s funny how huge a difference expectations can make in the way you feel about a book.

  4. October 21, 2011 10:47 am

    My expectations were a bit high as well but it’s one that I’d love to re-read. Not sure that makes any sense. I think maybe with a bit of distance I might enjoy it more. LOVED The Historian, though!

    Look forward to readathoning with you this weekend. ;)

  5. October 21, 2011 2:11 pm

    I would have preferred THE HISTORIAN to be about 200 pages shorter (like the monk migration routes). I plan to read SHADOW someday …

  6. October 21, 2011 6:48 pm

    I apologize for raving about this book! But I did love it. It’s everything I like about book – a mystery that seem real and other-worldly at the same time, a plot that revolves around one of my passions, and writing that keeps me up until 3am. I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR LOVING THIS BOOK! :D

  7. October 23, 2011 1:27 pm

    Oh, I haven’t read The Historian, but I absolutely adored this book. As a book-lover, I’m bound to love anything which talks about the magical mythical Cemetery of Forgotten Books. That aside, this was fantastic, and had me gripped from start to end.

  8. October 24, 2011 6:43 am

    Expectations are hard to avoid, right? I didn’t know a thing about this book when I read it; I loved it.
    YAY TeamTRIX!

  9. November 13, 2011 12:25 pm

    I read this book a few years ago with no expectations at all and loved it! I never heard of the Historian but now I am intrigued, on a “national” note I highly recommend “In the name of the rose” by Umberto Eco, again books play a crucial role, it’s brilliant

  10. November 24, 2011 7:33 pm

    I too have read this book, it’s been quite some time since I did so. I had a hard time diving into it at first, but once I did, I actually enjoyed it. Although, I thought that “The Historian” was much better. I read “Shadow” during a bookclub meeting, and was one of very few who actually thought that it was well-written. I thought that the characters were very interesting, and there were a few puzzling and bizarre moments, but, all-in-all, a good read. It’s a good winter book.

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