Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Did I seriously just read a modern novel and enjoy it?

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Translated by Lucia Graves

A better question might be Did I seriously just post two blogs in a row? Okay, maybe that's not a better question. Back to the book.

The setting is Barcelona in post-civil war Spain. I'm already in way above my head. Coming into this book I knew next to nothing about the Spanish Civil War and despite Mrs. Lungwitz's best efforts in 3rd grade, next to nothing about Barcelona or even Spain. It's still an enjoyable book to read.

Daniel is a young boy who lives with his father, a used bookseller. At the beginning of the story Daniel discovers a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax and immediately falls in love with it. He wants to read more of Carax's novels so he begins searching. Despite his access to a knowledgeable network of booksellers, Daniel fails to find any more novels; in fact, many people haven't even heard of Carax. Thus begins the mystery.

Daniel sets out to find more details on Carax's life, his works, and what ultimately happened to him. This includes questions like: Why did Carax leave Barcelona without a trace in the '20s? What happened to Carax after he returned in the '40s? Who is burning all available copies of Carax's novels? Why is Nuria Monfort lying about how much she knows? Why is the police inspector obsessed with Daniel's findings? Who is posing as a mysterious character from Carax's novel?

This mystery is what drives the novel and I must say, drives it very well. In the midst of his searching Daniel continues to live his life but soon notices eerie parallels between his life and Julian Carax's. Parallels with ultimately disastrous ends. Dun dun dun!

Okay, seriously, this is a good book. Very well written/translated. As with any mystery though, you can't give away too many details. If you've read anything about this book you might notice that I didn't mention anything about The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Every review I've read makes a big deal out of this first chapter. It is a cool concept but honestly as far as plot development, very minor. In fact, it almost seems like the author took a completely different route than the Cemetery chapter foreshadowed, so in my mind it is not really worth mentioning.

1 comment:

  1. Ahahahaha!!! 1: His father is a used bookseller? The poor man! 2: Dun dun dun! You actually used that in a blog. NICE. And way to fight the mindless masses by not bothering to mention something irrelevant.