Shadow of the Wind is set in Barcelona. It was originally written in Spanish and it became an overnight bestseller. It was later translated into many languages including English. This is the author’s (Carlos Ruiz Zafron) first book and his much awaited second book is due by the end of 2009. This book is added to my Orbis Terrarum Challenge list! I travelled to Spain this time and i loved the journey.
The book starts with a little boy being taken by his father to a secretive place – the cemetery of books. According to the tradition of the members, Daniel walks around the labyrinth of books to pick out one book that he will treasure through his life. The book finds him. It is “Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax. He reads the book in one sitting and becomes interested in knowing more about the author and other books that he might have written. This seemingly innocent quest changes his life for ever.
The book almost has a magical, mystical setting… or should I just say, Gothic? It almost has a fantasy touch to it – the cemetery of books, people falling in love at the drop of a hat, homeless men becoming heroes, etc. So don’t think too much and just read the book for what it is and you will totally enjoy yourself. Being rational doesn’t help while reading this book!
I must mention that it is quite a scary book - the faceless strangers, the dark mansions, the eerie sounds, the murderers… It still gives me a shudders!
I came across a review for this book and some guy had written that this book was powerful enough to make him cry. I didn’t feel that strong an emotion for this book. It was a tale that I was witnessing, not experiencing. It was a fun read but not something I could cry for (and I cry easily. I cry for ‘you’ve got mail’ every time I see it... so you know what I mean!).
But it is a gripping novel. There are so many parallel stories happening and so many twists to the tale that it is hard to take a break. I’d read up to the end of a chapter planning to put the book down after finishing the chapter… but a single line at the end of it would make me even more curious and I would land up reading the book for a long long time after that! One thing that I have to add here is there are times when the book suddenly gets a little boring.
One thing that I didn’t like too much about the book was the way the protagonist’s character starts out being strong and then slowly dwindles into significance. I am not sure if this was something Carlos was trying to get at. When the book starts, Daniel is very obviously the center of the novel. And then the novel progresses and you suddenly realize that you are no longer interested in Daniel and his doings. Fermin seems to be a more dominant character and you realize that you are drawn to him more than Daniel. By the end of the book, both Fermin and Daniel are forgotten. There’s just Julian. And you begin to wonder if the book was all along only about Julian and you just had missed it in the beginning.
**Possible Spoiler Ahead
One more thing that irked me was the way Daniel gets to know everything there is to know through a letter – a very detailed letter at that. I am wishing that there was more to that part than just a letter. Well, it so turned out that Nuria was on Julian’s side. What if she hadn’t been? How could Daniel just take everything that Nuria mentioned in the letter at face value? I thought that the letter was too convenient an ending for my liking. After all the twists in the plot, the ending was almost anticlimactic to me.
Well, having said all that, I must re-state that I totally loved the book. It was different from books that I have been reading and it was a nice and interesting change.
You must must pick it up if you haven’t already read it!
If you have read this book and reviewed it, do leave me a comment with the link..