Each year I ask my family and friends for recommendations for my book list. There’ll be a post about the list as a whole coming soon but it really is as simple as it sounds. I always get a mix of books depending on who I ask but for the first time this year I had three people mention the same book. “ The shadow of the wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I purchased this with two other books and read this after the others. Little did I know that I was saving the best until last.
I was told that this was a true book lover’s book and that’s completely accurate. As a boy our main character Daniel is introduced to the cemetery of forgotten books. A huge secret library dedicated to protecting literature. He is told that he may take one book with him and the book he chooses is “The Shadow of the Wind“ by Julian Carax. Over the next few years Daniel finds out that a disfigured man is burning every copy of Carax’s book he can find. A man who sounds suspiciously like the figure that’s taken to standing on the street outside Daniels house at night.
That’s all I’m going to give away on the main plot. The reason for this is that as Daniel uncovers the truth of the tale, so do you. This is a story that develops through layers of sub plot and meta fiction and to try and do justice to the narrative in such a brief format would be wrong.
The first thing that stunned me when reading this was that it’s a translation. Usually I struggle with translations as I find the language to be jarring. This wasn’t the case with “Shadow of the wind”. I found the writing to flow and was easily able to imagine myself on the streets of Barcelona. I’ve been told by people since that the book is even better in the original Spanish but considering that my bilingual skills are limited to German swear words it might be a little tricky for me to read.
While the story and the language are fantastic it is the characters that make this book so very good. Daniel himself is a highly likable hero. Intelligent, generous, kind and hopelessly naïve when it comes to love. Also his discoveries of adult emotions are incredibly easy to identify with. It is a strange thing in a book to find that one of the more over the top and exaggerated people is one of the most liked but that is the case with the man who is essentially Daniel’s sidekick. Fermín Romero de Torres is a master of many trades and a former spy. Daniel brings him in off the streets and hires him to work in the family bookshop. His overly enthusiastic personality is somewhat irritating at first, until you see that it is masking a series of horrific scars both mental and physical. It is the partnership that develops between the two changes this book from a well written and intriguing mystery, into a thoroughly enjoyable read.
“Shadow of the Wind” has set the bar incredibly high for 2016. It’s not a simple book but I found it to be one I could read easily. The flow of language, the suspense of the mystery, the likability of the characters and the overall tone of this novel have placed it high up on my favourites list after only one reading. I look forward to reading the next book in the series and will be recommending this to as many people as I can. Usually I do a “Read this Book if you liked ____” at the end of my reviews. Today is a little simpler. Read this if you love Books.
You can purchase the book at Amazon (see link below) but I recommend stumbling upon it in a bookshop. It’s much more fun that way.