I am so glad my coworker, Kristi Burr, introduced this book and practically begged me to read it. Now that I have, and was so wrapped up in the story, I'm having trouble finding something else to satisfy my senses. Thankfully, Zafon has another book called Angel's Game that I can check out and Kristi claims is just as good or better.
We were both immediately swept up into The Shadow of the Wind, following a young boy named Daniel through the misty, night streets of Barcelona. His father, a bookseller, is secretly introducing him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a tradition passed on in which the recipient is encouraged to choose and then protect a book from obscurity. Between 1944 and 1955, Daniel gets sucked into the world of an elusive character, Julian Carax, the author of the book he has chosen. Daniel grows into himself as he discovers the unjust and more often cruel world of a wartime city while chasing phantoms of evil men and beautiful women. As the story continues to develop through the mouths of many characters, Daniel becomes obsessed with Carax, whose actions and life begin to resemble his. Zafon introduces an eclectic mix of strong and distinct characters. Quotes about the importance of reading and books are scattered throughout the novel to evidence the love of reading felt by the author. Moving quickly, Zafon uses suspense, intrigue, unrequited romance and harrowing figures to navigate a city full of dark, shadowy doorways and abandoned mansions.
This book is a translation from Spanish, but we're astounded at the language of description and storyline that would never belie the fact that it was written in another language. In the words of Carlos Ruiz Zafon, "Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that 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, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day." Kristi and I hope you do not become one of the scarce, but continue to engage in the art of reading.
Recommended by Allison Holbrook