‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book review

Blurb from Goodreads

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax.

But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written.

In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

My Review

Once upon a time, in a green and beautiful land, there lived a young girl. She was a happy child full of the joys of hope and possibilities. She spent her days studying and learning, her evenings walking through fields and along the riverbank with her dogs…
And her nights?
They were the most special time of all.
For at night she was transported to far away kingdoms through the magic of books.

“One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn’t have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.”

One Christmas, a kindly person gave her the gift of a book, for they knew of the girl’s love of reading. This book was called ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. The girl, being consumed with the busyness of the Christmas festivities, placed the book in her parents’ bookcase for safe keeping.

And there the book remained slowly gathering dust holding its secrets within.

“Nothing feeds forgetfulness better than war. We all remain silent and they try to convince us that what we’ve seen, what we’ve done, what we’ve learned about ourselves and about others, is an illusion, a nightmare that will pass. Wars have no memory, and nobody has the courage to understand them until there are no voices left to tell what really happened, until the moment comes when we no longer recognize them and they return, with another face and another name, to devour everything they left behind.”

Many years passed by and the girl was no longer touched by youth’s bloom… Her soul had gotten tired, her heart weary…
But yet she still retained the love of books. One day she took a deep breath and clicked ‘add friend’ on Goodreads and suddenly a whole new world of words and friends was opened up to her. She was introduced to people from far away lands who loved the same things as she did; people who understood what it meant to be to have a heart carved with words.

Among all those she friended, she met two very special people who, from their disparate worlds, gave the girl the greatest gift of all; joy.

The first person told her all about her favourite book. It was called ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. The girl immediately remembered the abandoned copy in her parents’ bookcase. She knew this had to be a special book for such a heartfelt recommendation and endeavoured to hastily retrieve the book from its dark and dusty location.

Some months later, the second person magically knew that the girl was going through a dark time and out of the blue extended the hand of friendship and sharing. A buddy read was to be theirs. The girl knew that this was to be an extra special buddy read and therefore it needed an extra special book…

And that book????
I think you know by now….

“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… In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.”

‘The Shadow of the Wind’ is a book about books…
But it is so much more than that. I never for one second knew where the plot was headed. I was constantly guessing. It was a mystery, a thriller, a love story and a historical fiction all in one…. On this occasion, less most certainly is not more!

I don’t have the words to express how much this book touched my heart.
How much it now means to me.
How it filled my heart.
How I experienced the whole gamut of human emotion throughout its pages.
How I felt the main character Daniel was somehow me.
It made my heart both heavy and light. My heart soared and it was cut down… But then I rose again…
The language…. It is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read. I could get lost in its words forever. And to think that originally this was written in Spanish!!!! Oh such glorious translation. The marriage between original author and translator feels like the most natural thing in the world to me.

I guess the simplest thing for me to explain how much I loved this book is to tell you that this is one hundred percent a five star book for me… and if you know anything about me you know that I’ve read hundreds upon hundreds of books, many forgotten ones not recorded on Goodreads or this blog, but this one?
This one will never be forgotten and will remain with me forever.

I love it.
Its words are forever carved into my heart.

“As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help being overcome by a sense of sadness. I couldn’t help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot.”

five soaring stars

I urge you all to not make the same mistake I did and read this book in the very near future. It is too beautiful to be forgotten.

“Of all the things that he wrote, the one I have always felt closest to my heart is that as long as we are remembered, we remain alive.”

4 thoughts on “‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon – Book review

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