A new voice: The Shadow of the Wind

Two things have happened this month. One, my reading pile has gotten seriously out of control and two, I’ve gotten a little sick of the sound of my own voice.

Solution? Recruit some generous, bookish ring-ins who have kindly offered to write some reviews for me! How wonderful?!

And so today, I’m thrilled to introduced the lovely Kathy P., who’s recently read The Shadow of the Wind (Penguin) by Carlos Ruiz Zafron…


I am a bookish person.  How better to entice a reader than:

‘Every book… has a soul.  The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.  Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens….’

As promised by this statement, The Shadow of the Wind is a book that lives with you.  Written in 2001 by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, it has been translated from Spanish to English, and from what I can tell from the feel of the book, nothing was lost in the translation.

It is a book that you need a little time for in the beginning.  While interesting, the first 100 pages or so aren’t riveting in the same way other novels might be.  But then something changes.  Zafon takes his time weaving an elaborate story of love, coming of age and sorrow.

Set in Barcelona six years after the Spanish civil war, The Shadow of the Wind is the journey of Daniel.  He is almost 11-years old when we meet him.  He is taken one night to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his book-seller father.  The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a holding place for all the books no one reads any more …

’When a library disappears, or a bookshop closes down, when a book is consigned to oblivion, those of us who know this place, its guardians, make sure that it gets here.’

And it is a secret…

Daniel is initiated as a guardian of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by means of the tradition of choosing one book, a book that the new owner will adopt and never allow to die.  Daniel chooses ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax.

After reading this book, Daniel wishes to find more books by Carax only to find he might have the last copy of the author’s book.  It is rumoured that all the other copies of anything Julian has ever written, has been burned.

We follow Daniel on his journey to discover more of Julian Carax and in turn, his journey to manhood.

It is an elaborate read.  Zafon paints beautiful pictures and weaves the many stories he has to tell in a tight, thick web around his reader.  It is the kind of read you can’t wait to have reach the ending, to know the conclusion and yet want it to linger on so as the story never ends.

At its conclusion, I had to allow the story to sit with me for a few days and just rest before I could pick up another.  It makes me want to travel to Spain and walk the streets Zafon describes, to reach out and touch the oldness and beauty of Barcelona, a city I still know next to nothing about.


Damn. I thought that having Kathy review this book for me would mean I could take it off my reading pile. No such luck, now I want to read it even more!

Have you ever read a book that made you want to visit somewhere new?

Buy your own copy of The Shadow of the Wind at the TBYL Store


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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Subtlekate
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 01:04:42

    I loved Shadow of the Wind and the follow up The Angels Game. Now I have The Prisoner of Heaven in my sights. I wanted to see Spain after this and to move through the streets with the same simple stores and the disenfranchised people of the war moving among them. The setting was as much a character as the books and the people for me.

    Another book where I have longed to move through the scenery was A Moveable Feast. I longed to be in Paris.


  2. Perky
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 12:43:48

    Lovely review even if I do believe it is a book that is indescribable. It is my favourite book and will take some beating – I really don’t think any book could ever be so beautiful, have so many wonderful characters, themes and plot twists. I had always wanted to visit Barcelona before reading it, wanted to go even more after reading it and once I got there it was a dream come true (although the Barcelona Zafon had created in my head was obviously very different!). It really is a book that is a must read and will get you hooked from the first line. I mean what bibliophile wouldn’t want to explore the Cemetery of Forgotten Books?:

    “I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time…” and I’ll never forget reading Shadow of the Wind for the first time either.


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