The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón

The Shadow of the Wind‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruis Zafón is a book that has been on my ‘Probably Won’t Buy But Might Borrow From Someone Someday’ book list for a very long time.  As I am still in possession of my sister’s Kindle, I finally read it this week.  Set in post-Spanish Civil War Barcelona, a young boy named Daniel comes across a novel by the mysterious author Julian Carax called ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ in the Cemetery of Lost Books.  The story of what happened to Carax slowly unravels through the book.

The setting of Barcelona in the 1950s is evocatively described in Zafón’s lyrical style of writing.  I thought the naivety in Daniel’s character as a young man was very well written but I didn’t find many of the other characters particularly likeable.  The themes of the novel are very diverse – it’s almost as though Zafón has tried to fit everything into one book: romance, detective story, historical novel, gothic drama, thriller… this produces mixed results.  While it made the story seem very rich, I think intertwining so many different genres can also be a bit tiresome and made the complex narrative more difficult to follow.

Overall, I would say that there are very few faults with Zafón’s writing other than that it can be occasionally a little too flowery at times.  However, I thought the main problem with the book was the way in which the mystery was ‘resolved’ at the end through an extremely long letter – if the information had been revealed through a more sophisticated plot device, it would have been much more satisfying to read.

If anyone else has ‘The Shadow on the Wind on their ‘Probably Won’t Buy But Might Borrow From Someone Someday’ book list, I would suggest that it remains there rather than being moved to the ‘Must Buy As Soon As Possible’ list.  It contains some beautifully written prose but the structure of the plot could have been improved.  If anyone has read the sequels, I would love to know what you thought of them…


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13 responses to “The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafón

  1. I was annoyed by the plot device of characters popping up at handy moments to advance the plot. Other than that it seemed a decent book. The sort you’d read and then not bother for at least 10 years. A bit Like Gabriel GArcia MArquez, except his books are fantastic.


  2. I recently read a short story by Zafón and was reminded of his wonderful writing. I read this book and am planning to read the sequel soon (as the third book is out now also) but I must say I don’t remember a lot of the book, just that I liked it a lot.


  3. What to read next!!

    Thought this was an interesting book, but not as good as the publicity suggested. Lots of clever ideas and language, but promised more than it delivered.


  4. Loved the first, liked the second, will wait for paperback on the third.


  5. I reviewed this one for my blog last week and I felt the same about it, it just didn’t meet my expectations! I was so disappointed!


  6. This has been on my ‘might read’ for a long time. I keep picking it up at the bookshop and then changing my mind. Based on your review and other comments it will be one i get from the library I think rather than buy so if I don’t like it, I haven’t wasted money. Thanks for the money saving tip!


  7. Ahh, I must confess I loved this book. I knew it had flaws, too, but just liked it to much to be bothered by them. I liked The Angel’s Game just as much, and have just got my hands on The Prisoner Of Heaven, so I’ll find out what that book is like very soon. I also like the Young Adult books that he wrote earlier in his career that are slowly being translated. I think the thing that grabs me with his writing is just the fact that it’s very evocative in places, very easy to imagine it all visually. But I can see how not everyone would love it.


  8. kim's scrapbook

    right then – won’t put this on my list as a possible book from Spain


  9. LaChatNoir

    Beautifully written but yes somewhat hard going in places



    I just reviewed this book, and do agree with your assessment.


  11. mylifeinrouge

    I actually really enjoyed the Shadow of the wind. At first I thought The Angel’s game was better, because it contained more mystery and suspense and a darker ‘atmosphere’ but even though the book (angels game) was thrilling, I was disappointed with the ending as it left way too many unanswered questions 😦

    I read Prisoner of Heaven recently – and I still prefer Shadow of the Wind.


  12. Raj

    The sequels are not better then this and could easily be dismissed. But I would like to recommend another book that falls somewhere in the same line but is written by a Nobel laureate: The New Life by Orhan Pamuk. This is also a book in which a book changes lives of many people. But that’s only the surface; this metaphysical thriller is much deeper than just that.


  13. Pingback: The Investigation by Jung-Myung Lee | A Little Blog of Books

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