The Shadow of the Wind

This historical fantasy (528 pages) was published in February of 2005 by Penguin Books. The book takes you to 1940s Spain. Melissa read The Shadow of the Wind and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

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The Shadow of the Wind

The Cemetery of Forgotten Books

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (translator)

It’s 1945 in Barcelona. The furor of the war years has diminished, but the city is still healing from its wounds. Shadowy and somewhat sinister, but not without hope, the city is home to a young boy, a good-natured family friend, a troubled author, and a mysterious book — all caught in a web of intrigue together.

When Daniel awakes on his eleventh birthday and can’t remember his mother’s face, his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a labyrinthine collection of books left behind by the rest of the world. The books on the spiraling shelves wait for someone to care about them again. When Daniel carefully pulls The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax from the shelf, he unknowingly sets in motion an adventure that will change the lives of everyone he knows.

This novel tells a story within a story: As Daniel loses himself in the Carax novel and seeks out all of the works by the enigmatic author, the innocent boy — and the people he loves the most — are drawn into a real-life tale of magic, ill-fated love, madness, and murder.

Barcelona is a starring character in the works of Carlos Ruiz Zafón. His abiding affection for the city shines in his detailed descriptions: the Gothic spires, the cobbled alleys, the sounds of the streets and creaking of hallways, the bright light and dark shadows of the plazas. His version of the city is a Gothic layer cake of secrets and atmosphere that will pull you deeply into Daniel’s story.

At the heart of that story is the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, the magical, sinister place where the real story both begins and ends. It’s a celebration of literature and what stories mean to us. How they help us cope, understand the world, and find the truth of ourselves.

The Shadow of the Wind is part of the thoroughly engrossing Cemetery of the Forgotten Books series by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The author has said that he wrote this cycle of novels to create a literary labyrinth that we’re invited to enter at any point. Read our reviews of The Angel’s Game, The Prisoner of Heaven, and The Labyrinth of the Spirits.

Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return. — Carlos Ruiz Zafón

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