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But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax's works in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind.
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Coming of age.
Thus begins the child's fascination with the author of "The Shadow of the Wind", one Julian Carax. The child grows, determined to discover who was this mysterious Carax, why did he flee Barcelona, and why is some mysterious stranger determined to destroy all copies of his books and all trace of his life.
The destruction of an artist's life and works is a potent exploration of censorship and the ability of Franco's followers to fictionalise history. Carlos Ruiz Zafon has life imitating art: Daniel's life seems to parallel Carax's! Is this a case of not learning from history? One of the characters remarks that true evil requires thought and reason, but that most people who do evil are too stupid to intellectualise their behaviour: they act simplistically out of corrupted emotions ... fear, anger, jealousy, guilt, greed.
Fascism, we see, took a hold because not enough people were prepared to act to stop it. Fascism will return if people are too lazy to think, to value, to question. History can repeat itself unless people learn.
But Fascism - which tries to impose a rigid structure on the State and its people - creates intense loneliness. People live in fear of exposure, of seizure by the secret police because they dare to think differently. Daniel's is the loneliness of fear, but it's also the loneliness of teenage love - lusty, erotic, but ultimately fragile and insecure. As a teenager, how do you know you are in love? You weave your dreams and hopes, but lack the experience to compare, to know for sure. You barely understand desire, let alone love. As a teenager, history never repeats itself, because you simply don't yet have enough emotional history!
Haunted, pursued by the mysterious leather-faced man who is out to destroy Carax's work, Daniel is haunted by the women he desires, is haunted by the need to construct a sexual and emotional self beyond the boundaries of childhood. Freedom, here, is hardly political freedom, but rather escape from emotional and sexual censorship. As Daniel strides out into the world, we watch his friendships and family dissolve around him. He has to build adult relationships now, not childish ones.
This is a book which works on so many levels. The focus is primarily on the fantasy world Daniel creates, the fantasy, shadowy world of resistance to Fascism, to censorship and mind control. It is fantasy until it runs smack into reality, the reality of a mature world. Suddenly, we have a murder mystery on our hands. We have political intrigue. We have eroticism.
"The Shadow of the Wind" is an extraordinarily well-written novel. It moves at a gentle, cerebral pace - you barely notice you are on a rollercoaster ride through fantasy. Yet it is a wonderful evocation of Barcelona - not the city of tourist brochure and sunshine, but a dark, mysterious city, lived in by real people enduring real fear and oppression. The fantasy is merely a dark cloak - once you begin to peer under it you feel this is a vivid insight into the subconscious of Spain.
It is a wholly absorbing, and highly unusual, mystery which will engross you. If I have one criticism, I felt the last quarter of the novel is comparatively weak. The ending can appear a little hasty and contrived. Having created a fantasy, turned it into a dark mystery and eroticised the romance, the ending could have been better played and plotted. But overall, a lovely, thoroughly enjoyable novel which will engage you on a number of levels and leave your mind stimulated.
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‘I could tell you it’s his heart, but what is really killing him is loneliness. Memories are worse than bullets.’
The Shadow of the Wind written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and translated by Lucia Graves, was an absolutely beautiful book to read and savour. I am in such awe of the flowing, vivid and rich details in this novel, and I must applaud Lucia Graves for her skill in her translation.
The Shadow of the Wind is hard to define to one specific genre; although it is classed as historical fiction I personally felt that it was more of a bildungsroman, with a crime thriller twist to it. The story follows Daniel Sempere from a young boy, as he first enters the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and chances upon a novel written by Julien Carax. He then embarks upon a journey throughout the years to uncover the truth about the author. Through this journey, we watch Daniel and those closest to him experience loneliness, forbidden love, prejudice, and lost friendships. Barcelona is shown to be a perfect gothic backdrop to this, and I loved visualising all the descriptions.
Whilst Daniel was my favourite character, it was Fermin Romero de Torres who I found the most entertaining, as his humour really cut through the more somber chapters. He was always so eccentric and crude but he surely had a heart of gold and was just loveable.
Fumero the main villain of the book, was one to really despise. He was an awful and malicious character, whom I loved to hate!
I did find that in the middle of the book the story did start to drag a bit, the pace slowed down a bit too much for my liking. However, I didn’t mind too much as I think my favourite aspect of this book was the rich writing that was full of similes and metaphors, which were incredibly perfect. I seriously could have included so many quotes in this review. There were so many descriptions about books and the readers enjoyment of them. This is definitely a book for all book lovers
The book is set in parts as well as chapters, the parts give you an idea of the date that that part of the story is set in as it does span over a few years from Daniel being a child to going into teenage adult times. It also covers the time span of Julián and his story, so it does make it clear and there are ways you know when certain things happen for example when a character tells a story you know it is a story. As I said there is little signs of changes of time and topic or plot within the story. So it makes it easier to recognise.
As the blurb said it follows Daniel as he tries to discover the story of the author who wrote The Shadow of The Wind by Julián Carax. The story was complex, but not confusing, everything was explained and worked out through the story. The plot was so amazing and it draws you in, and you just want to turn the page over and over and before you know it you have finished the book. I have loads of things I want to say about this book but I also don’t want to put spoilers in, so I may have to do a video review and fangirl the heck out of this book.
Daniel, I immediately connected with his character especially his love for that book because I think we all have that love for a certain book so I definitely got where he was coming from with that. He was such a charming character and it was very interesting watching him grow up from a child to a teen slowly starting adulthood. His interaction with different characters completely showed what kind of person he was. Like when he goes to see Cara (Who is blind) sits and reads with her and he just does nice stuff. Always seems to get punched for it like.
Julián, he is I would say the other main character in this story and he is such an enigma and he is so fascinating and I love it. I think along with Daniel I fell in love with the man from him. Like he was so amazing and there is so much I want to say because I don’t want to spoil it. (So that’s all I can say about him because spoiler)
I loved all the characters in this book and I thought that they all had a nice part in the book and I liked them all well except the certain person who did the certain thing to a certain person. (See the spoiler problem?)
I can’t really say anything else about this book I may have to do a spoiler review on youtube. Would you all like that? Would you like to hear more about my thoughts on this with spoilers? Let me know!
Gothic, beautifully written, filled with mystery, intrigue and characters that you simply can't put down.
This is a detective story that you never know who is actually being hunted 'The Devil' or the author. A young boy who is obsessed with a book and therefore a story, a history that is unsolved and he must be the one to unravel it. Set on the streets of Barcelona against backdrop filled with corruption and dark alleys this book is one that every fan of Gothic literature must read and trust me, you'll go back for more and more.
I hated how all the women were written in this book. They were all unfortunate creatures of some description, lacking in depth of character. This was in complete opposite to the depth of character most of the men had. Hmmm. Too much focus on voluptuous breasts...if this was a romance or whatever, this might have been in context, but it wasn't here.
As if the pacing wasn't difficult enough, the way that the reveals came, in a letter (all tell and no whow). In the kindle edition, this was formatted as a book within a book...Chapter 1 this drove me crazy. The twists were somewhat clever but I'd lost my give a damn about 40% prior, so it didn't have the same shine.
Lots of people love this book, I don't know why it missed the spot but in my opinion it could have been shorter with the bore edited out. I have no compunction to continue with the series and if I never hear of Lain Courbert again, it will be too soon. I am reassured that most of my book club also struggled with this one, so it's not just me.