Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secreats - an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
The synopsis (found on the back cover of this book) does no justice to the story - only the last sentence really touches on what this book really is. While Daniel's search for Carax moves this story - the search delves into the government corruption and police brutality in Spain caused by a government being overthrown, pushing the whole country into a state of terror. Although this is set maybe a decade after things have started to settle, this fear is only slightly below the surface. This search is more about the mysteries of life and human nature than a search for a book or author. Character development and plot is outstanding - taking you from a young boy to a full grown man, growing from a simple book to a number of lives intertwined in one story.
I found that the story line actually reminded me a bit of The Thirteenth Tale (in my top five books of all time) and Wuthering Heights with its darkness and mystery as well as many of the subjects discussed in the novel. Zafon has been compared to Umberto Eco in this novel, but I find that Zafon's language is more alive than Eco's. Although the prose is not as beautiful as Setterfield's in The Thirteenth Tale (That would be impossible), I found that it was interesting and varied - easily accessible, but not dumbed down by any means.
One of my favourite reads this year by far; this story will take hold of you and won't let you go for days after you've put the book down.
An absolutely fantastic book - well-rounded, well-written.
Everyone, but especially the true book lover.
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