It took me many hours in the car listening on audio and a few more reading a paperback copy from the library, but I finally finished The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón! Edited from Goodreads:
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book titled The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been 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.
Wow, where to begin. This is a tremendous book that has a little of everything—mystery, adventure, revenge, romance, history, and more. It’s a love letter to Barcelona; a story within a story; an intriguing puzzle with many twists and turns. I had a couple of things figured out before their big reveals, but then something would happen that threw me completely off again. The (many) characters are fleshed-out individuals with clear personalities (LOVED Fermín! Super memorable—charming, funny, romantic, loyal). I love how the action is spurred by BOOKS and a love of books! The Shadow of the Wind is a bibliophile’s dream.
I do have a few minor qualms about The Shadow of the Wind, though. It at times became almost overwhelmingly melodramatic, and I wished the women in the book would have been a little more kick-ass with stronger personalities (well, perhaps it was the era the story is set in, or the patriarchal society?). Also, it took a little while to get into and then for me personally, took longer than I would have liked to get through. That could just be the timing of my reading, though—school and orchestra season started up in the last couple weeks so my leisure time has dwindled. Normal (and good), but I always have to adjust to the new schedule every fall!
The Shadow of the Wind is the first of a trilogy, and I would like to say that I’d get to the other two eventually (so many books on my TBR…), but honestly I felt like this one stands on its own quite well.
I listened to almost all of this one on audio on a road trip, until I got back and had trouble integrating audiobook listening time into my day-to-day life. So I picked up a paperback from the library to finish up the last 100 pages. I’m so glad I listened on audio though. Narrator Jonathan Davis had a lot of passion in his delivery, and since I don’t speak a lick of Spanish, his pronunciation of names and locations was really helpful in creating the atmosphere of Barcelona. He gave the characters a lot of life and even more personality for me.
Anyhoo… I can’t be the only one who wants to hang out in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where Daniel found his copy of The Shadow of the Wind, am I? 😉
Listened to audiobook from August 15 to September 2, 2013.