Book: The Shadow of the Wind

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Book:

The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves
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Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)

Barcelona, 1945—just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother’s face. To console his only child, Daniel’s widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona’s guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again. Daniel’s father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax’s work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness and doomed love. And before long he realizes that if he doesn’t find out the truth about Julian Carax, he and those closest to him will suffer horribly.

As with all astounding novels, The Shadow of the Wind sends the mind groping for comparisons—The Crimson Petal and the White? The novels of Arturo Pérez-Reverte? Of Victor Hugo? Love in the Time of Cholera?—but in the end, as with all astounding novels, no comparison can suffice. As one leading Spanish reviewer wrote, “The originality of Ruiz Zafón’s voice is bombproof and displays a diabolical talent. The Shadow of the Wind announces a phenomenon in Spanish literature.” An uncannily absorbing historical mystery, a heart-piercing romance, and a moving homage to the mystical power of books, The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storyteller’s art.

Reviews

Barnes and Noble

In the postwar calm of 1945 Barcelona, ten-year-old Daniel Sempere awakes from a nightmare and, to his horror, realizes that he can no longer remember the face of his deceased mother. In an effort to divert his son’s attention from this sharply felt fear and loss, his father, a rare-book dealer, first swears Daniel to secrecy, then takes him to a clandestine library where Daniel is allowed to select a single book.

Entranced, Daniel picks a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, written by the enigmatic Julián Carax, who is rumored to have fled Spain under murky circumstances, and later died. As Daniel begins to search for other works by his favorite new author, he discovers that they have all been destroyed—torched by a mysterious stranger obsessed with obliterating Carax’s literary legacy from the face of the earth.

Though Daniel’s copy of Carax’s novel is the last in existence, he’s unwilling to part with it at any price and dedicates himself to revealing the truth about Carax. Aided in his quest by the good-humored Fermín Romero de Torres, a former beggar whose “difficult life-lessons” enable him to keep a step ahead of trouble, Daniel begins to uncover a tale of murder, madness, and secrets that might best be forgotten. And as he wends his way through Barcelona society, both high and low, he comes to realize that his own part in The Shadow of the Wind is more than that of a mere reader. (Summer 2004 Selection)

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