The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Published by Penguin Books on January 25th, 2005 (first published in 2001)
Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
“Every book, every volume you see here, 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.”
Why, oh, why did it take me until now to read this masterpiece? I can finally say that I understand why so many people have labeled this as one of their favourite books of all time.
The writing is beyond beautiful. The way Zafón forms his sentences and the way he uses words to sweep you into this world is unparalleled. Some might find that he spends too much time on the tiny details, but I felt like it was perfect for setting the scene. It really felt like you were there with Daniel dealing with his heartbreak. You could smell the rain coming off of the streets and you could imagine that horrible burning smell whenever Laín Coubert was around.
Zafón has this ability of enticing readers to join him on this journey. The plot seems confusing and complex at first, but you can’t help but want to see it slowly unfold before you.
What struck me most about this book was that it was a love letter to literature. It’s about how books live on forever. It never just ends when the author has finished the final touches and it goes out to print. The way you connect with a book is completely unique and can’t be replicated.
I don’t think Spain as a character gets enough credit. That might sound weird, but Zafón described each city, each building, each street with such vivid detail. We were seeing how Spain was changing just as these characters were entering new periods in their lives.
I’m one of those people who’ve put this book firmly in my list of favourites, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the best book ever written. There were definitely problems for me in the middle. The long prose got to be a bit too much and I wanted the story to progress a bit faster. But that’s a pretty tiny gripe since I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
I might hate myself for saying this, but this story lends itself so well to becoming a movie. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet! There were so many scenes that seemed to be written for the big screen. All throughout the novel, it felt like I was watching an epic movie because of all the tiny details Zafón made sure to include.
This book is all at once: riveting, mysterious, haunting, imaginative, and sentimental. I have so many more adjectives to use, but it’s hard to put into words how magical this book is.
This novel is clearly a classic for a reason. The plot is captivating and the writing lends itself for hours and hours of analysis. Zafón has a way with words that few have.
I recommend this book to anyone who’s looking to getting into historical fiction and who love a good mystery at the heart of the plot. The book will also make you want to cherish your book collection. I know I’m now on the hunt for that book that makes me feel the same way that Daniel felt about The Shadow in the Wind.