Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s 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 Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
You know how it sometimes takes a few pages, or even a few chapters, before you get really into a book? (Or in the case of George R.R. Martin it sometimes takes up to 300 pages, but that’s a whole other story). Well this isn’t one of those books. The moment I finished the first page I just knew that this was my kind of book. Because, let’s face it, any book that starts by describing the discovery of a relatively unknown book that has an air of mystery around it and is so special and gripping that it needs to be finished in one sitting should appeal to any book lover. Just by reading those first few pages I knew that I was about to embark on a very special reading experience. I didn’t feel that the narrative was dragging on at any point during the story, and I was constantly torn between wanting to finish it as soon as possible, and wanting to drag it out because I just didn’t want for the book to end. So in the end I did force myself to put it down every now and then, and I’m glad I did because it enabled me to enjoy the story to the fullest and it made me treasure each and every page.
The build up of the books is just absolutely stunning, and this by itself already deserves some recognition. It starts out slowly, and as Daniel grows up from a young boy into a teenager he begins to discover more about this mysterious book called The Shadow of the Wind, its author, and how the various people in his life that are important to him are somehow linked to his quest of finding out the truth about Julián Carax.
The only problem I have with writing this review is that I want to tell you all how much I love this book, but at the same time I don’t want to give anything away. I started reading this book without having a clear notion of what it was about. I bought this book purely based on the recommendations of others who loved it, and I trusted their judgement to the extend that I didn’t even bother reading the synopsis on the back. So based on this I think this book is best enjoyed when you dive straight into it without having any preconceived thoughts or opinions about it.
The thing is that I cannot recommend this book enough, and I’m constantly in two ways as to how I want to go about promoting it. On the one hand I want to write about it with the eloquence of the grown up person that I am supposed to be, but on the other hand I want to follow people around, pestering them like a small child and bullying them into reading all of my favourite books. It’s a tough choice to make 🙂
But really, joking aside, what I’m trying to say is that regardless of the genres you normally read, I would advise you to give The Shadow of the Wind a try, because it incorporates many different genres so there should be something in there for everyone. It has elements of a Gothic novel, it’s got mystery, suspense, romance, the occasional touch of humour, and of course, most importantly, it’s a book about books. So, what’s not to love?