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The Shadow of the Windby Carlos Ruiz Zafon
When you start a novel with your protagonist selecting any book they want from a place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, you're going to get a bookseller's attention. Ruiz Zafon's novel works on so many levels for me. As a story, it resonates emotionally, with strong characters that I always looked forward to returning to. On another level, it makes me want to visit Barcelona, where much of the book is set. This one's a keeper!
This is a large, great read that weaves together multiple love stories, a ghost story, and a mystery. The exotic Barcelona setting juxtaposes the medieval and Mediterranean with the bleached, chilled world of civil war and Franco's dictatorship. The characters are strong whether comic, courageous, or cruel. Best of all, it begins in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. What delight!
Okay, never mind that The Shadow of the Wind starts off in a wonderfully mysterious bookstore and that there's a romantic element that is not schmaltzy, but "timeless" in the best sense of the word. What I loved was how I thought I knew where the author was taking me, but was instead sidetracked and detoured by the different characters and subplots. Ruiz Zafón's language conveys a true storyteller's gift of music, timing, and enchantment.
If you've read The Shadow of the Wind, you won't need to read another word — you were likely so enthralled with Carlos Ruiz Zafón's breathtaking literary thriller that you've already ordered your copy of Angel's Game. For those who don't know, Zafón is a masterful storyteller whose Cemetery of Forgotten Books will enchant every lover of books.
This is an exciting mystery centered around a "forgotten" book. There's someone evil gathering up all known copies by any means necessary burning them, and burning away all traces of the author. The evil person calls himself by the name the book gives for the devil. Not one, but two surprise revelations make this a great, fast-paced, fun read. Ruiz Zafón is a master at producing a page-turner.
"The Shadow of the Wind has an innocence that doesn't prevent it from being thoroughly enthralling; at heart, the novel is a story of star-crossed lovers, bold young heroes, their lovably eccentric sidekicks and a cruel, dastardly villain. There are no fiendishly clever twists or secret codes, but Ruiz Zafón doesn't need them. He sweeps you along with the sheer riverine force of his sincerity and passion." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
The international literary bestseller — more than one million copies sold worldwide.
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.
"The Shadow of the Wind will keep you up nights — and it'll be time well spent. Absolutely marvelous." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"To call this book...old-fashioned is to mean it in the best way. It's big, chock-full of unusual characters, and strong in its sense of place....This is rich, lavish storytelling, very much in the tradition of Ross King's Ex Libris." Keir Graff, Booklist
"Beautifully translated by Lucia Graves, it's a compulsive page turner: Never mind the improbabilities; the reader gets hooked by Daniel's strange odyssey and the innumerable offbeat characters he encounters along the way." Peter Green, The Los Angeles Times
"Wind is wondrous....While managing to hit just about every genre, The Shadow of the Wind is ultimately a love letter to literature, intended for readers as passionate about storytelling as its young hero. (Grade: A)" Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Entertainment Weekly
"Ruiz Zafón strives for a literary tone....Yet the colorful cast of characters, the gothic turns and the straining for effect only give the book the feel of para-literature or the Hollywood version of a great 19th-century novel." Publishers Weekly
"The melodrama and complications of Shadow...can approach excess, though it's a pleasurable and exceedingly well-managed excess. We are taken on a wild ride...that executes its hairpin bends with breathtaking lurches." Richard Eder, The New York Times
"It's a mesmerizing read that swallowed this reader's soul, at least for the hours I spent in its company." Maya Muir, The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"Zafón's writing is so epic and vague, he fails to engage the reader even when describing real-life events....The combined effect of the foggy setting and soggy writing is of being lost in a swamp." Jennie Yabroff, The San Francisco Chronicle
"[A]n over-the-top, operatic melange....It's so chock-full of hokum that it makes The Da Vinci Code look like a work of the starkest realism. In short, it's a hoot." Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News
"[T]he secrets and lies, murder and intrigue that are described on every page make for an unusual and engaging read that will leave readers clamoring to know which of the characters will be around by the last page to tell their tales." Angela Smith, San Antonio Express-News
"[A] deeply flawed creation....The novelty and wit dry up before the novel's protracted conclusion, an exhausting and, alas, risible affair that reads like an out-of-context merging of opera and 1930s Universal horror films." Gregory Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune
"[Shadow] follows a traditional narrative; what is outstanding is the metaphysical concept of books that assume a life of their own as the author subtly plays with intertextual references....[A] meticulously crafted mosaic." Library Journal
"It's part detective story, part bildungsroman, part soap opera, but the biggest flaw in The Shadow of the Wind is that it simply has too many parts....The novel's structure, too, is hopelessly fractured." Bill Vourvoulias, Newsday
"Lucia Graves...has rendered Ruiz Zafón's distinctive sensibility with the seamless invisibility of a good translator. Her unsung efforts make it possible for the English-reading world to enjoy this gem of a novel." Robert Weibezahl, BookPage
"[S]tylishly written and informed by a love of books....Ruiz Zafón embeds these concepts within a deft thriller, a populist work of genre fiction that looks beyond its own conventions, even if it doesn't venture too far." Kansas City Star
"[A] compelling labyrinth of stories that gracefully unfolds in layers, as if the novel were a Russian nesting doll....But this is also a book about love's poetic power to heal the wounds of the past and offer second chances." Miami Herald
"Readers may find, as they are hypnotically drawn in by the blurred layers of reality and easy identification with the characters, that they are exploring The Shadow of the Wind in the company of new friends." Rocky Mountain News
"If you thought the true gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind. Shadow is the real deal....Be warned, you have to be a romantic at heart to appreciate this stuff, but if you are, this is one gorgeous read." Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly
The international literary sensation — a runaway bestseller in Spain — is about a boy's quest through the secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona for a mysterious author whose book has proved as dangerous to own as it is impossible to forget.
This best-selling Spanish novel (translated into English by Lucia Graves) begins with a young boy named Daniel, who discovers a strange, forgotten novel in a bookstore: it's called The Shadow of the Wind, and the rumor is that its author is being plagued by a man who is trying to track down copies of the book so he can destroy them. As the story moves out of the 1940s and Daniel grows up, he becomes consumed with investigating this bizarre story and the life of the book's author, and the search for the truth takes him not only into the lives of others but deeply into his own background.
About the Author
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, thirty-nine, grew up in Barcelona. The Shadow of the Wind has spent more than a year on the Spanish bestseller list, much of it at number one, and has sold in more than twenty countries.
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