Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Shadow of the Wind

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Published 2001
pages 487

Genre: fiction/mystery

Stephen King noted this novel as "one gorgeous read," which could have attributed to the enjoyment I found through its pages; however, it was, without a doubt, the most entertaining novel I have read in a long time. The others I read this summer had good and unique qualities, but this one struck me as one that I will turn to over and over again.

Young Daniel is taken, by his widowed father, to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel is an avid reader, and is overwhelmed by this mysterious place his father has taken him to. Once inside the cemetery, Daniel is instructed to search through the labyrinth for any book--one that jumps out--it is that book that he will adopt as his own. Daniel finds "The Shadow of the Wind" by Julian Carax in a far corner. Daniel spends a sleepless night leafing through the pages until, satisfied, he closes the book. It was the best book he had ever read. When a family friend offers Daniel an exorbitant amount of money for the book, Daniel becomes suspicious and intrigued with the potential worth of the book he chose.
After some detective work, Daniel learns that someone is searching the globe for every copy of every book Carax ever wrote and burning them. This book turns Daniel's world upside down, but also brings him wisdom and an understanding of the world around him. The more he discovers, the less he actually knows. He is sent on wild goose chases that lead him to interesting characters with not-always beneficial information. The plot is intricate and labyrinthine, enigmatic and fascinating.
Zafon's style is effortlessly eloquent: Bea says that 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 already 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. The imagery is astounding; it lurks, traveling with the breeze through every page.
Zafon will definitely become a name I look for.


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