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LITERATURE: Mondays Book Talk

Post 179. Written by Ben Kesp 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I was given The Shadow of the Wind as a gift and I eagerly dived into its pages to discover 1940s Barcelona and the mystery behind the disappearance of all, except one book belonging to author Julian Carax. Carlos Zafón’s artistic style of writing is poetically beautiful and the silken words flow effortlessly over the pages. 

Ten year old Daniel Sempere selects a book from the Cemetery of Lost Books, a haven for lost and out of print books, but what he does not realise at the time is the book titled The Shadow of the Wind, is the last book left by its author Julian Carax. The book captures Daniel’s curiosity and shortly after, he discovers a man by the name of Laín Coubert, who wishes to destroy the book. Over the next ten years, Daniel begins an investigation to discover what happened to the unheard of author Julian Carax and who is the strange man with the disfigured face that wishes to destroy all of the author’s novels? Daniel does his best to protect the final book by replacing it within the walls of the Cemetery of Lost Books. 

On his journey to uncovering the truth, Daniel discovers love, and despite being a very awkward and shy teenager, he fights for what he believes in and punches above his weight to get the girl of his dreams, although he is unsure what he will do once she notices him. Partly the story can be seen as a coming of age for Daniel. 

Zafón creates two worlds, almost duality between the life of Daniel and his love for Beatriz and Julian Carax and his love Penelope. Daniel retraces the steps of the younger Julian in his pursuit of love while simultaneously investigating Julian’s life. Through his innocence Daniel unknowingly opens up a tangled web of hidden secrets and a long list of characters involved in what happened to the mysterious author Julian Carax that transcends time into Daniel’s world endangering his own life. All the connected web of characters, each different with their own pronounced characteristics and backgrounds makes for a complex but interesting read. 

I was not disappointed with this epic and detailed story full of colourful characters nor with the beautiful artistic style of writing, creating vivid, yet hauntingly dark and at times dreary scenes of Barcelona. Zafón depicts dark streets, damp and dark apartments and heavy cold rains that always seemed to follow Daniel like the dark memory he had set free unknowingly. However one minor let down was that much of the answers to the mystery contained within the story unfolded through narrative. Following the murder of Nuria, the estranged daughter of the keeper of the Cemetery of Lost Books, Daniel receives a very long letter which reveals everything. This changes the tone of the book revealing much of the mystery, however central to connecting all of the points together. The ending is not left without its mystery and tension, keeping the attention of the reader, eager to how it will turn out for Daniel and Beatriz. 

The Shadow of the Wind is an epic story, driven my numerous characters, each with their own part to play and is filled with wonderful quotes. Certainly a great story and a recommended read. 


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