I had never heard of this amazing book by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafon until a few weeks ago; now I see people reading it everywhere I go! It is an intriguing, complex, and very well-written mystery.
In 1945, Barcelona is still struggling with the after effects of both the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Daniel, a ten-year old boy and the son of a bookseller, misses his long-dead mother. When he wakes one morning and cannot remember her face, he is devastated. Daniel’s father takes him that very day to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a mysterious building with an equally mysterious but wise caretaker. Daniel learns that since this is his first visit to this place, he is to remove one book, adopt it, and ensure its survival. After wandering the huge labyrinth that is this building, Daniel chooses a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Juilan Carax.
Daniel reads his chosen book, and is captivated by both the book and its author. A wealthy bookseller offers to buy it from Daniel, but he takes his responsibility seriously. While trying to find more of Carax’s books, Daniel learns that he is not alone. Someone is determined to find all remaining copies of all of Carax’s novels and destroy them all.
This is the central mystery of the book. This is also a coming-of-age novel. Daniel falls in love, wanders the streets of Barcelona, keeps secrets from his father. It takes Daniel years to unravel the mystery of Julian Carax. Along the way, we meet many interesting characters.
The Shadow of the Wind was written in Spanish, so of course I read it in translation. It was a very skillful translation; the novel read as if it were written in English. I whole-heartedly recommend this book!
Published in hardcover-Penguin-2004