Book #59

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón 

 Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, 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 Julian 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.

It’s been around ten years since I first read The Shadow of the Wind and now, having collected the other books in the series through charity shops, gifts, and blind luck, I’ve started a long journey into the four novels which will immerse me fully into the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.

Although we are faced with a multitude of characters here, they are all wonderfully perfect in their own right. Seamless backstories, beautiful dialogue, and endearing quirks all lead to a feeling of being bundled up in their lives, invested, committed, ensnared. The people are the story, and the story is its people.

Gloomy post-war Barcelona is a big draw here, and almost a character in itself, augmenting the plot with its gothic setting and shadowy alleyways. We’re fed tiny bits of information as though we are small birds, and as different perspectives are introduced we grow larger, more knowledgeable, until the web of secrets finally unravels. The pace is incredible, the subtle hints perfect, and the constant hunger to discover is utterly insatiable.

A stunning, perfectly crafted story. Books, secrets, families and scandals. There are few things more captivating for me, and I’m glad to be able to remain in Barcelona as I open the door to The Angel’s Game.