Book Review: The Shadow of The Wind

This book surprised me, not because of any particular twist or development, but because if what it was. The back cover copy read like a thriller: nefarious forces will stop at nothing to destroy all copies of a child’s favorite book! Why? Will the boy survive? It is not a thriller, but it is a beautifully written tale of family, loss, and legacy, Shadow of the Wind is a slowly unraveling mystery, a puzzle assembled in a candlelit room from a kit with no box. It is equally a coming-of-age family saga about growing up in Spain after world War 2.

Let’s talk about it.

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The Basics:

Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin, 2004 (Translation from 2001 original)

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Daniel is the son of a Barcelona bookkeeper, growing up in the tumultuous years after The Spanish Civil War and World War 2. At an early age, he falls in love with an obscure gothic melodrama Shadow of the Wind by unknown author Julian Carax. For those keeping score at home, Shadow of the Wind is both the book itself and the book-within-the-book. When Daniel searches for more titles by his new favorite writer, he unearths a history of lost love, betrayal, unfulfilled potential, and murder. Soon, Daniel is dogged by shadowy figures hellbent on destroying every last page by the maligned Carax. How far will Daniel go to protect this lost work? How will the struggle shape the man he becomes?

Oh, and Daniel falls in love with not one, but two women society says he should not.

Why This Book Is For You:

Have you ever noticed how the Oscars love rewarding movies about movies? The Artist. Birdman. Argo. The King’s Speech (if you count radio). Lala Land (almost). The Shadow of the Wind is a New York Times bestselling love letter to books.

Shadow of the Wind is an engaging Gothic mystery with heart and atmosphere.

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The language itself is luxurious and poetic, a nod to an earlier era of literature. It’s a modern classic, written with the pace and tone of a classic. This book contains some of the most beautiful description and characterization I have ever read. It is worth the read for that alone.

The central role of Daniel’s father, their bookshop, and the in-book book on fostering community and bringing healing elevates the importance of the written word.

Where Can You Find More?

Zafón tragically passed on in 2020. You can read about his life and work at The Guardian, or on his personal site. Check out Shadow of the Wind on Goodreads.

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