Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Book One of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books series
Published first in 2001 in Spain then on January 25, 2005 in the US
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery
Buy this book on Amazon or Thriftbooks

I read this on paperback.

“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. For me those enchanted pages will always be the ones I found among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.” pg. 8

When Daniel Sempere stumbles across a book entitled Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, he begins his search for the rest of the author’s books, only to discover that someone has been methodically destroying every copy ever written.

For a full synopsis, visit Goodreads.

Surprisingly, no movie adaptations have been made or discussed.

This book was written solely for book lovers. Ruiz Zafon has a handful of characters eloquently describe their intense love and adoration for books. The prose in this book is beautiful. Ruiz Zafon can write about a turd coming out of an elephant’s ass and make it sound like a heartbreaking love poem by Pablo Neruda. This is the best part of the book. I found myself underlining/highlighting nearly everything that struck my heart or that bewitched me.

The story takes a lot of twists and turns. You get so immersed that you forget what’s happening in real life. There are numerous subplots within the main story, which keeps it interesting and adds to the overall plot and experience. The mystery behind Julian Carax’s books and the man himself is what propels the story and Daniel’s quest. Daniel Sempere is a likable main character, although his adventures in love are a bit extreme. Which leads me to what I dislike about the novel.

There are a few issues I have with the story and I will try to discuss it without giving anything away.

ONE: The way Ruiz Zafon writes about Daniel’s love interests. One love interest, Ruiz Zafon writes about in a foreboding manner that makes it seem like homegirl’s role in the story will be much more significant than it turns out to be. Another one of his loves isn’t mentioned at all until BOOM! Out of nowhere, he realizes she is attractive and immediately falls in love. It makes Daniel seem a bit shallow and dim-witted when it comes to love. In fact, most of Ruiz Zafon’s female characters are a bit lacking in every department, with the notable exception of physical beauty.

TWO: I enjoyed the parallels between Daniel and Julian’s lives but sometimes they were too much. The only good thing about the similarities is that they lull you into a false sense of security. As a reader, you begin to make assumptions about what will happen next in Daniel’s life. Rest assured, though, most of the time you will be wrong.

I originally gave The Shadow of the Wind four stars then I continued to dwell in Ruiz Zafon’s world and thought I should change it to five stars. After a few days (and a few drinks and conversation with a fellow book lover), I cooled down from the literary high this book gave me and realized my original rating was correct. Four stars because although I found the book to be entertaining and beautifully written, there are a few issues with the plot.

Shadow of the Wind is Ruiz Zafon’s fifth novel. Before the release of this one, Ruiz Zafon was well known solely for his young adult books and are used as required readings for high school students in Spain. Guess I’ll have to check out some of his young adult novels.

Bonus Fun Fact: Carlos Ruiz Zafon composed a soundtrack for Shadow of the Wind; one song for each chapter. You can download or listen to the tracks HERE.


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