The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind

Full Title: The Shadow of the Wind (Book 1 of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series)

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1964 – 2020)

Published: 2001

Publisher: Penguin Books for English Version

“In the realm of contemporary Gothic literature, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón comes as a surprise. It isn’t horrifying or even all that terrifying. It doesn’t have a forlorn English setting or a languid Southern Gothic feel. It doesn’t even have that dark of an ambiance, although it certainly has elements of darkness. And yet Zafón manages to create a very unique and well-written Gothic novel.

Plot and Storyline

The story, set in Barcelona in 1945, concerns Daniel, a young man who’s struggling with the loss of his mother and his fear that he can no longer remember her face. To console him, his father takes him to an enormous hidden labyrinth, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where books that no one remembers or loves any longer are housed. He tells him to choose a book, one book that he will treasure for the remainder of his life.

He chooses a book, reads it, and finds that it touches him deeply. So much so that he longs to find every other book that the author, Julián Carax has written. The only problem is that all of Carax’s novels have been pulled off of the shelves by some unknown person and burned. And Carax is missing.

From that point on, Daniel embarks on a journey to discover Carax’s history and the reason for his missing novels. It isn’t long though before a shadowy figure begins to lurk outside his window and to follow his footsteps through the streets of Barcelona, someone who would prevent Daniel from uncovering the truth.”

(Portion of review by Charlotte Lesemann, March 7, 2022)

Submitter’s Notes

To understand the value and popularity of this book you only need to learn that on Goodreads it has almost 600,000 ratings and 45,000 reviews.  It is a modern gothic novel that will stand the test of times.  In written form it is estimated to have sold 15 million written copies.  At almost 600 pages this says a lot about how the story becomes all-consuming for the reader.  We can recommend the audio version, perhaps as a start, because it helps with many pronunciations that make the book more enjoyable.

Usually, we do not reread books because we like to move on to new material, but not with The Shadow of the Wind.  We have each read the book twice and listened to the audio version at least three times.  Each reading is as enjoyable as the first and reveals plot connections that are understood through the subsequent three books in the series.

The book is also set during Franco’s rule of Spain and has insights into the era when people feared persecution and their very existence from day to day.  If you only have time to read one book this year this should be on the list.

The book and audio editions are available in many places, but Amazon is a good starting place.