Wednesday 19 January 2011

Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Shadow of the Wind

Imagine a novel that features suspense, tension, surprise, unexpected turning points, and an unbelievable outcome. Imagine a novel about adulthood that combines history, drama, love, and crime. Imagine a novel that offers excellent plot combined with triumphant writing style. Imagine a novel that keeps you awake during the night just to discover what happens at the end. Imagine a masterpiece. This is Carlos Ruis Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind. The novel, set in post-Civil war Barcelona is a story about a boy that starts a strange and dangerous quest upon the discovery of a mysterious novel.

Daniel is a 10-years-old boy, who is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten books, a collection of rare and old forgotten titles collected by passionate readers. According to the tradition the boy has to pick one novel and protect it for life. The book that Daniel chooses is about to change his life for real. The Shadow of the Wind is a novel by the mysterious Julian Carax. The author has disappeared a few years ago (most probably killed) and a dangerous stranger goes around burning any left copies from his works. The stranger calls himself Lain Coubert, the devil from one of Carax's novels. The copy that Daniel has is the last one and the boy is ready to do anything to protect it. Together with his friend Fermin and his beloved Beatrice Daniel starts an adventure to discover the true identity of Julian and the reason for the destruction of all of his novels. Completely immersed by Carax's talent, Daniel risks his life and the life of his friends and family to discover a secret kept hidden for several decades. As the story unravels and Daniel uncovers Julian's tragic destiny, the boy grows up, reevaluates love, betrayal, and loyalty and realizes the similarities between his life and the life of Carax.

Ruiz Zafon is a phenomenon in contemporary world literature. The Spanish writer takes the reader on a road through the amazing sites of Barcelona, encompassing multiple story lines to arrive at a complicated plot definitely worth experiencing. Once acquainted with Safon, I cannot wait to get more. Next on my wish list are The Angel's Game and The Prince of Mist. These three novels are part of Safon's tetralogy, which promises to stay in literature history as one of the best mystery collections ever.

If you are fascinated with Carlos Ruiz Zafon, be sure to visit his UK website at It features an interview with the author, interesting trivia about why he became a writer, and lists of things he likes or admires. For the first time I happen upon a website, where the author communicated directly with his fans. I would like to see more of that.

1 comment:

  1. I cannot praise this book enough. It is the perfect blending of story, character and setting. The voice of this work is warm, believable and engaging. Typically, I'm not drawn to the supernatural in fiction, but Zafon, and his translator, Graves, create a world, like Marquez, where the supernatural is a living, breathing aspect of reality. I could not put this book down and, as with the best fiction, I did not want it to end. Shadow of the Wind is like a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for the reader.