Book Review | The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

14 February 2020

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón was my favorite book of 2019. I read it for the first time between a long 12-hour flight to London and tram commutes to l'université where I studied at in France. It was such a magical experience. This book was a comfort to me abroad, and the story left its mark on my heart. I made it my goal to reread it as soon as possible. I wanted to take it slowly, to soak up all the words and pay attention to every detail of the story. I couldn't have expected how much better this book would be upon a reread.

This book is set in Barcelona amidst the Spanish Civil War, around the same time as WWII. However, while this book does have a strong sense of place, the historical setting is really just a backdrop to the beautiful story that unfolds. We follow Daniel, a young boy who finds a mysterious book titled, The Shadow of the Wind, after his mother dies. He sets out on a mission to learn more about the life of the author, and find out why someone is trying to destroy all the remaining copies of his works. One part mystery, one part coming-of-age story, this story keeps you intrigued, while also making you grow extremely attached to the characters.

The thing that surprises me most about this book is that it is a translated work. Originally written in Spanish, the translated prose reads so naturally. You can tell that the translator took great care in giving English-speaking readers the true experience and conveying the same meaning the author was trying to achieve. I had to stop in awe and underline so many lines as I was reading. This is one of the most beautifully written novels I've ever read in my life! If you also appreciate gorgeous writing, you will be sure to love it too!

The way this story is plotted is truly masterful. As you begin to unravel the mystery of Julián Carax, the author of The Shadow of the Wind, you begin to see how Daniel's life greatly mirrors his. When all the loose threads begin to come together in the end, it's truly incredible! I loved as I read this book for the second time how I could see small hints revealed throughout that I didn't notice the first time, making the reread so much richer. It blew my mind!

I also became so incredibly attached to the characters. Fermín especially took such a hold on my heart with the simple, yet profound nuggets of wisdom he would give to Daniel. I also loved Daniel himself as a main character and how I could really see how he grew up and developed throughout the events of the novel. His story is a testament to how much the books we love shape who we are. It's beautiful.

This book has often been described as a love letter to those who love books, and I have to agree. Literature and the connection one feels toward their favorite book is a huge driving force of this story. I love to read books about books, and this is truly one of the best! Any reader can see themselves in Daniel as he falls in love with The Shadow of the Wind and becomes infatuated with the past of its author.

I will not ever forget this book or the experience I had while reading it. Both read throughs were so special in different ways. It has rightly earned a spot on my shelf of all-time-favorites as one of the books that has come to shape me as a reader, which is really hard for a book to do. I cannot urge you to read it enough!

Rating: ★
"Destiny is usually just around the corner. Like a thief, a hooker, or a lottery vendor: it's three most common personifications. But what destiny does not do is make home visits. You have to go for it."--Carlo Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

1 comment

  1. "I wanted to take it slowly, to soak up all the words and pay attention to every detail of the story." < aw, this line is so beautiful and I can totally relate to that feeling when I want to reread a favorite! This novel sounds beautiful and I definitely have to read it after your awesome review. <333

    (Oh, and I tagged you for the Share the Love tag over on my blog! xx)

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