lyrang, January 2, 2010 (view all comments by lyrang)
One of the most haunting and beautifully written books I've read in a very long time. Zafon is an incredible writer and a gifted storyteller. Every person I've suggested this book to has later thanked me for the recommendation.
Kristen M, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Kristen M)
After rereading this book in 2009, I can definitely list it as one of my favorite books of the decade. The beautiful Barcelona setting, the strong but flawed characters and the smart plot are all part of a well-crafted novel that should remain relevant for years to come.
Darbouski, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Darbouski)
Zafon combines the writing style of magical realism with a plot that is much more in the manner historical fiction. The book follows a young boy's journey as he grows up in 1940s Spain as the son of an antique book seller and falls in love with a particular book. The adventure becomes stranger as he tries to hunt down the author of the book. The book is fabulous.
Joan Ivan, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Joan Ivan)
Mystery, history and fantasy. All wrapped up in a love song to a city that embodies all that: Barcelona.
You do a lot of walking, while knowing exactly where you are: in the inimitable soul the author evokes.
Linda Roberts, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Linda Roberts)
I loved this book! There is humor, sorrow, love, suspense, friendship, tragedy, brutality, revenge, fabulous sense of time and place and a fountain pen that connects the story together through time. The language is flowery, and the pace sometimes slow but I never wanted to put it down. There was a twist I didn't expect yet all the ends are neatly tied into a perfect circle at the end. It's not a traditional mystery, but it is a wonderful book.
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!
by Mike H
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!
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.
"Review A Day"
by Laura Miller, Salon.com,
"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." (read the entire Salon.com review)
by Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World,
"[S]uperbly entertaining....[A]nyone who enjoys novels that are scary, erotic, touching, tragic and thrilling should rush right out to the nearest bookstore and pick up The Shadow of the Wind. Really, you should."
by Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly,
"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."
by Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review),
"The Shadow of the Wind will keep you up nights — and it'll be time well spent. Absolutely marvelous."
by Keir Graff, Booklist,
"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."
by Richard Eder, The New York Times,
"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."
by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, Entertainment Weekly,
"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)"
by Library Journal,
"[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."
by Publishers 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."
by Laura Miller, Salon.com,
"Ruiz Zafón has revived the kind of full-blooded story of romance and mystery perfected by Victor Hugo. The Shadow of the Wind has an innocence that doesn't prevent it from being thoroughly enthralling....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....The Shadow of the Wind believes in the power of youth to rebuild hope on the bitter, ash-strewn ground of history, and so powerful is the sway of this author's storytelling, that, for 550 pages at least, he makes you believe it, too."
by Robert Weibezahl, BookPage,
"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."
by Gregory Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune,
"[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."
by Peter Green, The Los Angeles Times,
"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."
by Maya Muir, The Oregonian (Portland, OR),
"It's a mesmerizing read that swallowed this reader's soul, at least for the hours I spent in its company."
by Jennie Yabroff, The San Francisco Chronicle,
"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."
by Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News,
"[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."
by Bill Vourvoulias, Newsday,
"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."
by Angela Smith, San Antonio Express-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."
by La Razon,
"As magnetic as The Club Dumas, as unsettling as The Mystery of the Haunted Crypt and with a plot as complex and well rounded as The Name of The Rose — to be recommended one hundred percent."
by La Vanguardia,
"A thriller, a historical novel and a comedy of manners....[W]ith great narrative skill, the author interweaves his plots and enigmas...maintaining the suspense right to the very last page."
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.
It all begins with a letter. Fall in love with Penguin Drop Caps, a new series of twenty-six collectible and hardcover editions, each with a type cover showcasing a gorgeously illustrated letter of the alphabet. In a design collaboration between Jessica Hische and Penguin Art Director Paul Buckley, the series features unique cover art by Hische, a superstar in the world of type design and illustration, whose work has appeared everywhere from Tiffany and Co. to Wes Anderson's recent film Moonrise Kingdom to Penguin's own bestsellers Committed and Rules of Civility. With exclusive designs that have never before appeared on Hische's hugely popular Daily Drop Cap blog, the Penguin Drop Caps series debuted with an 'A' for Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, a 'B' for Charlotte Brönte's Jane Eyre, and a 'C' for Willa Cather's My Ántonia. It continues with more perennial classics, perfect to give as elegant gifts or to showcase on your own shelves.
Z is for Zafón. Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. Daniel, an antiquarian book dealers son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in what he finds in the cemetery of lost books,” a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the authors other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Caraxs books in existence. Soon Daniels seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelonas darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
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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.
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