EPS Review #206 - The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Phoenix 2004, 510pp.

A number of people recommended this book to me (see below). P read it and liked it as well. It is a romance set in Barcelona, and briefly features a giant old library that reminded me of The Name of the Rose (ok book, and excellent movie ). Daniel, the protagonist, obsesses about a novel he found there by Julian Carax. Someone is burning Carax's books -- why? Daniel's life seems to parallel Julian's more and more, and I thought that there would be some insoluble mystery about it all. I also dreaded the appearance of magic or inexplicable events. And yet I was disappointed when everything got explained clearly and happily in the end. Not a great book, but sweet and it moves along.

She gave me a broken smile, full of fear and loneliness. I then saw myself through her eyes: just an innocent boy who thought he had conquered the world in an hour but didn't realise he could lose it in an instant.

This reminded me that a long time ago I read a lot of Goddard books. Airport reading, but a strong motive force of mystery, unfair mystery and sometimes unresolved.

Joe wrote: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón made the NYTimes bestseller list as I recall. That not a great recommendation to me, but in this case I liked the 19th century romantic feel of the book. The story moves along quite well even though it moves forward and backwards in time. It has interesting characters and an intriguing plot.

Laurie wrote: yes i read it and enjoyed it. a little sci fi - ish for me (ie "magical") but engrossing and great for bibliophiles.

John wrote: I'm reading Shadow of the Wind (and Ilium and The Ghost Brigades , but right now just S of W). S has just finished and liked it a lot. Sort of mix of Spanish politics, coming of age story, and a literary mystery with Gothic overtones, set in Barcelona in the mid 1950s.

Paul wrote: Did you read (or did I recommend) House of Leaves?

Talking about parallel stories, books, movies, etc.... made me think of it. Although it is neither easy nor light, but I particularly enjoyed it.

I replied: No you have not mentioned that before. Have you read Pale Fire?

How did you get on with the Lymond chronicles? I started the second book, but I have laid it aside. Too much was going past me without understanding.

Paul replied: Pale Fire is incredible.

I started book 1 and enjoyed it, and then my summer got kinda screwed up, I put it down, and I can't get restarted.

Frank wrote: I too for some reason read The Shadow of the Wind when it first came out and agree with your take on it. I found the first half quite interesting and peculiar (in a good way). Given the rare book and library angle, I planned to recommend it to G. Then, for me, it generated into a conventional mystery/thriller that was a lot less interesting and seemed to betray the novelty and complexity that came before.