The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón [Translation: Lucia Graves] (Orion Books, 2004)

The Shadow of the Wind

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 Grade: Α  — Great book, must read regardless of what Genres you enjoy.  Makes you think of things beyond the scope of the book

In brief: I loved this novel and, even though the story felt complete at the end, I was sorry when it finished.  Part mystery, part romance, part literary fiction The Shadow of the Wind is thrilling, gripping and touching in a way that I can only dream of writing.  The language used is delicate, precise and flowing (both in the original Spanish and in it’s marvelous English translation). In brief, it is the tale of a boy who entrusted with the guardianship of the last copy of a book, and how he unravels the mystery surrounding it and its enigmatic author. The Shadow of the Wind is a complex story, but an easy read.  I highly recommend that you buy the book and become enchanted.

 Setting: 1950’s Spain (under Franco’s regime).

 In Depth: The Shadow of the Wind is a book about books and those who love them.  Beyond that, it is extremely hard to classify. I call it mystery with espionage overtones, but the story so often veers from its central quest that it doesn’t sit easily in any category.[1] In that sense, one could say it is character driven and thus could be classified as “Literary Fiction,” alternately it could be classified as a romance, but doing either of these fails to recognize the central mysteries around which the whole book revolves.  The plot is tremendously complex, but the prose remains one of the easiest reads I’ve ever had.  It uses lyrical language, but doesn’t get swamped in metaphor (despite what Publisher Weekly says) and while a thoroughly adult book, I believe it could be fully enjoyed by any YA reader.  It is alternately funny and sad, and at least for me, engaging throughout.

In short, the story follows the tale of Daniel Sempere, the son of a bookstore owner in Fascist period Barcelona.  After the death of his mother, ten year old Daniel is given the guardianship of the last copy of a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, whose author disappeared under mysterious circumstances some years earlier.  As Daniel grows older, he gradually discovers and becomes embroiled in the mysteries surrounding the book and its enigmatic author.  Along the way, he falls in tragically in love and encounters a large cast of characters, each with their own mysteries which range from the tragic to the hilarious.  In the end, all the story lines are perfectly well resolved, and yet I wished it had not ended.  I was not ready to leave the delightful world that the author had created. 

I cannot recommend this novel highly enough, especially to anyone who loves language, mysteries or engaging characters. 


 [1] The narrative does this without in anyway falling out of plot or losing its central story arc – how Ruiz manages to pull this off is beyond the scope of this blog, but is something any author should study.

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About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Crime Thriller, Espionage, Mystery, Ripping Yarn, Romance, Spy Thriller, Strong Characters, Unique or Imaginative World and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafón [Translation: Lucia Graves] (Orion Books, 2004)

  1. M. says:

    I have to say, I loved this book as well. You obviously have good taste:)

    • Thomas Evans says:

      Well thank you kindly! Obviously, I can say the same about you!

      I certainly have an eccletic taste, thpugh I suppose it all boils down to enjoying well told tales, regardless of the language they were originally written in. To that end, I can only admire the skill of Lucia Graves, who translated the novel. It reads beautifully in English and according to my wife (who is a native Spanish speaker), perfectly captures the feel of the original.

      On an unrelated note, I must admit that your pictures and descriptions of Salobrena make it look rather spectacular. I will have to put it on my must visit list.

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