17 July 2010

REVIEW: The Shadow of the Wind by C.R. Zafon

Title:  The Shadow of the Wind
Author:  C.R. Zafon
Genre / Pages:  Fiction, Mystery / 487
Publication: Penguin Books, 2005
Rating:  4th shelf  
Source:  Chapters Indigo
lj's plot in one pot: in 1945 Barcelona, Daniel finds love, intrigue, passion and murder when he chooses "The Shadow of the Wind" from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

This book surprised me.  About a year ago, I was in Chapters and for whatever reason was actually talking to someone who worked there (that's another story) and they recommended this book.  I must have been in a buying mood, because I bought it, and yet it sat on my shelf for almost a year before I picked it up to read. 

That being said, it was quite good.  The author's style was hard to get used to at first, his prose is very flowery and round-abouty, so it took forever for the plot to really pick up.  Once it did, it never let up!  Seriously, it took me 3 days of reading to get 150 pages, and then 2 days to finish!  When I got used to the author's writing style, I began to enjoy his metaphors and uncommon adjectives...I lost my page marker, but I distinctly remember him describing an elderly character as having "a face with such decrepitude".  It's not everyday that you hear that word, but it's fantastic.  

The plot wavers back and forth between a mystery and a love story, but more so, I believe this book to be an ode to literature in all its forms - and for that reason I loved it. I couldn't choose just one favourite excerpt, so here are my top two:
"A lineup of ladies with their virtue for rent and a lot of mileage on the clock greeted us with smiles that would only have excited a student of dentistry" p.477
"The art of reading is slowly dying...it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind" p.484

If interested, visit the author's website here,  (click on The Shadow of the Wind link to find lots of interesting info)


  1. From my dear, sweet mama...who can't seem to post this:
    "I experienced the same need for patience at the start of the book but was also overtaken with enjoyment as the book progressed. This book was recommended to me by a young woman who owns a bookstore in Belleville. At the same time she recommended "The Thirteenth Tale" by Diane Setterfield. For those readers who enjoyed "The Shadow of the Wind", I suggest they take a look at "The Thirteenth Tale". The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Vida Winter, a best-selling British writer nearing the end of her life, and Margaret Lea, the youngish apprentice bookseller and part-time biographer, whom Ms. Winter has chosen to write her life story. The problem is that Ms. Winter has spent her life telling stories -- including 19 different ones about her background and childhood. Will she be able to tell the truth this time?"

  2. I read "The Thirteenth Tale" because you recommended it to me...sort of. I remember you telling me that you didn't really like one of the main characters, and I felt the same way. Vida is odd for sure, but her life is enchanting. A great rainy weekend read :)