Do not ask me how I came across this book; all I remember is reading the description and thinking how intriguing it sounded. Which, once you read the book (or this little write-up), the mysterious origins of its way into my life seems entirely fitting.
The 2001 novel by Spanish author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, is exquisitely translated by Lucia Graves. The prose is fluid and elegant without being flashy, and I was sucked into the story right away.
The novel moves around in time and space but is mostly rooted in Barcelona over the first half of the Twentieth Century. A young boy, Daniel, is taken by his father to the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
[T]his place, books no longer remembered by anyone, books that are lost in time, live forever, waiting for the day when they will reach a new reader’s hands.
Daniel is allowed to choose one book of his own. He finds The Shadow of the Wind written by Julián Carax. When he inquires about the author himself, Daniel soon becomes dragged into a mystery that finds its origins thirty years earlier in the 1910s. Also, while he is poking around in Barcelona’s community to find more answers, the dastardly Laín Coubert, “the man without a face,” is desperately after Daniel’s copy which he has full intention of destroying which he has done to all of Carax’s previous copies.
Like a good cover blurb, this book is filled with death, murder, mystery, corruption, yada yada. Because Zafón was masterfull at wrapping a good story together, I couldn’t help but think back to my own book that I have been working on FOREVER. The Shadow of the Wind winds itself around different characters, different decades, and at times, different perspectives. In an expertly manner, the author divulges information or holds it close to his chest to not reveal too much right away. I recommend this to everyone but especially people who are working on their own project that might becoming a massive, out-of-hand endeavor.
The characteristic that stuck out to me the most was the plotting. The prose was beautiful and Zafón’s plotting really made this book a delight. What really stood prominent was when to hold back information and when to release it. This led to a natural feeling of “detective” on the part of the reader. We have Daniel who is also looking for clues and is acting as our surrogate.
Finally! This is the first book for The [International] Reading List.