Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
Un amanecer de 1945 un muchacho es conducido por su padre a un misterioso lugar oculto en el corazón de la ciudad vieja: El Cementerio de los Libros Olvidados. Allí, Daniel Sempere encuentra un libro maldito que cambiará el rumbo de su vida y le arrastrará a un laberinto de intrigas y secretos enterrados en el alma oscura de la ciudad. La Sombra del Viento es un misterio literario ambientado en la Barcelona de la primera mitad del siglo XX, desde los últimos esplendores del Modernismo a las tinieblas de la posguerra. La Sombra del Viento mezcla técnicas de relato de intriga, de novela histórica y de comedia de costumbres pero es, sobre todo, una tragedia histórica de amor cuyo eco se proyecta a través del tiempo. Con gran fuerza narrativa, el autor entrelaza tramas y enigmas a modo de muñecas rusas en un inolvidable relato sobre los secretos del corazón y el embrujo de los libros ,manteniendo la intriga hasta la última página.

«Una de esas raras novelas que combinan una trama brillante con una escrita sublime.»
Sunday Times

«Una obra maestra popular, un clásico.»
Daily Telegraph

«García Marques, Umberto Eco y Jorge Luis Borges se encuentran en un mágico y desbordante espectáculo, de inquietante perspicacia y definitivamente maravilloso, escrito por el novelista español Carlos Ruiz Zafón.»
The New York Times

576 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2001

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

62 books23.6k followers
Carlos Ruiz Zafón was a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and worked as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999).

In 2001 he published the novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first 'adult' novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards. Ruiz Zafón's works have been published in more than 40 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
310,789 (52%)
4 stars
181,528 (30%)
3 stars
71,865 (12%)
2 stars
20,012 (3%)
1 star
8,634 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 47,379 reviews
Profile Image for Annalisa.
525 reviews1,347 followers
February 10, 2014
I read the opening few pages and instantly knew 3 things:
1. I was going to love this book.
2. I needed a whole pad of post-its to mark quotes.
3. I wanted to read this in Spanish for the rich poetry the language would add.

A young boy Daniel is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and told to salvage a book which he must take stewardship over. He choses a novel—or maybe it chose him—that touches him, stirs his desire for literature, and forever entangles him with the fate of the book and its author. The strange author died in poverty but now someone is seeking out all remaining copies of his unsuccessful novels to burn. Daniel embarks on a mission to solve the mystery of the author's story being watched by a revengeful cop and the book burner himself. As the story twists and slowly unravels he doesn't know whose account to trust or how it will affect his life.

Wrapped up in the mystery is a message of death: do we live a full life or wander through it numb? The Shadow of the Wind is an allegory for death in a fictitious novel by the same title. Shadow is a perfect symbol for death evoking images of how death can be metaphorical instead of literal—living shadows of lives, chasing shadows of dreams, being shadows of others, letting memories shadow life. Every character had shadows which could engulf them or they could overcome. In this sense death becomes a fate we chose ourselves. For death is not always the worst thing that can happen ("words are not always the worst prison"). Every time the word shadow was used I considered its illusion of death. It was with much thought that the word was scattered throughout the book.

Just as the fictitious novel was an echo of the book and Julian's life, I loved watching Daniel's life parallel Julian's. Both grew up poor without an ideal family life, fell in love with a rich girl who was the adoration of her father and whose brother was a best friend, evoked murderous anger from her father after impregnating her, and when they have a brush with death, extremes of hate and love anchored their fight to survive. As Julian's story unfolds, Daniel unwittingly finds himself in the exact same point of their duel destiny.

Once Daniel is aware of the correlation, the comparison stops. Is it because Daniel consciously chooses to chance his path or has fate dealt him a better hand? Julian wrote "There are no coincidences. We are the puppets of our subconscious desires." But while the message is clear that we chose our own fate, it seems there was no fate but failure for Julian. The sad thing is I believed Julian's love for Penelope as it grew in obsession more than Daniel's love for Beatriz which seemed a happy chance of lust.

Themes of devils and angels are prevalent as characters save and ruin each others' lives. Clara is a physical angel who is blind while Fumero an emotional devil blinded by hate. While women tended to be described as angel and men devil, most characters held both in different shades. Take Julian the angel child bringing life (love, novels) who turned into the devil Lain Coubert bringing death (destruction, fear). But the characters pick whether to accept the destiny allotted them. Fermin was living death in the shadows of the street who had to get over his demons to find life worth living. The shadows for Nuria, Julian, Fortuny, even Fumero didn't have to give them a reason to quit living. They chose shadows.

The book reminded me of The 13th Tale thematically, linguistically, and in delivery, although I loved this book so much more. The way the mystery unfolds finding tidbits from different perspectives enhanced the mystery and aided the depth of characterization. When I can see the vicious wife beater, deceived husband, and regretful father all in Antonio Fortuny I get a more well rounded sense of his motives. I enjoyed how the characters played different roles for each other.

I love Barcelona as the setting. If you've been to the artistically enchanting city, you know it's the perfect backdrop to this eloquently enchanting tale with a gothic feel. The Spanish have a way of making all things metaphorically beautiful. The vivid romantic passages had me smiling and at times laughing out loud. I highly enjoyed the writing and it wasn't until two-thirds of the way into the book that the story finally stole my complete attention. Julian was my initial guess and while the story kept me questioning, it was the best solution and I was happy with the conclusion.

But no novel is perfect; my issues are these:
1. The readymade quotes are extreme. Zafon salvages this by calling himself out on the commentary. He sets the comments up in dialogue and then uses another character to mock the snippets.

2. Perspective, particularly in Nuria's letter, is off. How could she know what Miquel looked at when dying? The chapters of her letters change from direct commentary to Daniel to third-party narrative. Elsewhere in the novel Daniel summarizes conversations in italics but I wondered from whence the interruption of her narrative with Fumero's story came.

3. I always hope historical fiction will showcase a more accurate moral setting, but it rarely happens. While I believed the sex about Zafon's characters, done in secret and with fathers chasing down the culprits, how could they find out they were pregnant the next day? I was also disappointed that all marriages were displayed as wrong and wives disregarded. Oh well. I guess it added to the Spanish flavor of the book.

4. American authors tend to impose unrealistic happy endings while Europeans favor poignant sad ones. At one point it seemed bad things happened to Julian for nothing else than this love of tragedies. It seemed Zafon was going to ruin the characters lives to make a point. But he makes his point with Julian and leaves Daniel to gives us a satisfied ending. A story about the living dead cannot be all bliss but we still find redemption as the characters step out of the shadows and live their lives.

Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.
I believed, with the innocence of those who can still count their age on their fingers, that if I closed my eyes and spoke to her, she would be able to hear me wherever I was.
A secret's worth depends on the people form whom it must be kept.
Women have an infallible instinct for knowing when a man has fallen madly in love with them, especially when the male in question is both a complete dunce and a minor.
Death was like a nameless and incomprehensible hand...like a hellish lottery ticket. But I couldn't absorb the idea that death could actually walk by my side, with a human face and a heart that was poisoned with hatred.
The eternal stupidity of pursuing those who hurt us the most.
Paris is the only city in the world where starving to death is still considered an art.
Arrogant as only idiots can be.
I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory.
Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them.
Television...is the Antichrist...our world will not die as a result of the bomb...it will die of laughter, of banality, of making a joke of everything.
I realized how easily you can lose all animosity toward someone you've deemed your enemy as soon as that person stops behaving as such.
People talk too much. Humans aren't descended from monkeys. They come for parrots.
God, in His infinite wisdom, and perhaps overwhelmed by the avalanche of requests from so many tormented souls, did not answer.
Silencing their hearts and their souls to the point where...they forgot the words with which to express their real feelings.
People are evil. Not evil, moronic, which isn't quite the same thing. Evil presupposes a moral decision.
The words with which a child's heart is poisoned, through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later they burn his soul.
Marriage and family are only what we make of them.
Sometimes what matters isn't what one gives but what one gives up.
Destiny is usually just around the corner. But what destiny does not do home visits. You have to go for it.
Just an innocent boy who thought he had conquered the world in an hour but didn't yet realize that he could lose it again in an instant.
Keep your dreams. You never know when you might need them.
Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.
Waiting is the rust of the soul.
Sometimes we think people are like lottery tickets, that they're there to make our most absurd dreams come true.
While you're working you don't have to look life in the eye.
Most of us have the good or bad fortune of seeing our livs fall apart so slowly we barely notice.
Time goes faster the more hollow it is.
I learned to confuse routine with normality.
The world war, which had polluted the entire globe with a stench of corpses that would never go away.
The clear, unequivocal lucidity of madmen who have escaped the hypocrisy of having to abide by a reality that makes no sense.
A story is a letter the author writes to himself to tell himself things he would be unable to discover otherwise.
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 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.
[speaking of television:] The novel is dead and buried...there'll be no more need for books, or churches, or anything.
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.8k followers
May 4, 2023
4.5/5 stars

An astonishingly engaging story within a story type of novel; the passion for books and reading introduced in the first chapter was just an appetizer before all the interconnecting twists and turns.

I’ve been having a lot of good lucks lately in reading books outside of epic fantasy—my favorite sub-genre. The Shadow of the Wind is a novel that I’ve heard so many positive things about for several years; it is one of those books that’s often recommended by readers, regardless of their main preferences sub-genre of reading. And now that I’ve read it, I can understand why it received all the critical acclaims. Sheer brilliance in storytelling and writing aside, The Shadow of the Wind is a book about books, a story about a story, and it would be difficult for readers—who obviously love books—of all kind of genre to resist the charm in the narrative. I’m going backward here because The Shadow of the Wind was published first, but if you’ve read and loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, I think you’re going to love this novel as well. These two books have many similarities in themes and their approaches to the passion for books and its mystery + coming-of-age centered plotlines.

“In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.”

The Shadow of the Wind is the first book in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books quartet by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. The story takes place in Barcelona, 1945, and here’s the short premise of the novel. On his eleventh birthday, Daniel Sempere wakes up and finds out that he cannot remember the face of his mother anymore. To cheer him up, Daniel’s father takes him to the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library that holds the books forgotten by the world, just sitting there waiting for the right reader to choose a book that will hold a special meaning to them. Daniel selects a book titled The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, and he falls in love with it immensely, then he seeks other books written by Julian only to find out that someone has been destroying every book written by the author. He may just be holding the last copy of the author’s work, and he’s trying to solve the mystery behind this bizarre incident.

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

As I mentioned, The Shadow of the Wind is a story within a story. It tells a coming-of-age story of Daniel Sempere as he tries to unravel the mystery behind Julian Carax and the disappearances of his novels. Despite this novel has been published for more than a decade—almost two decades in its original language—now, I somehow was able to approach this book knowing close to nothing; I plan to keep it that way for future readers who stumbles upon this review. Let me, however, say that I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I grew to care about the characters in this novel, especially for Daniel and Fermin—Fermin is hands down my favorite character of the book. Daniel’s story and the secrets he unravels continuously gripped me, Fermin’s personality plus his dialogues are so intoxicating, and most of all the friendship these two nurtured is incredibly heartwarming.

“One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. By the time the mind is able to comprehend what has happened, the wounds of the heart are already too deep.”

I haven’t been to Barcelona, what I know of it, I see, learn, and heard from other people and other media. However, there’s a super atmospheric quality that’s so immersive to Zafón’s writing; when I was reading the book, it feels like I was truly there. I’m in a similar situation with my friends, in that I haven’t read the book in its original language, and because of this, I can’t gauge the accuracy of the translations. But as far as reading the book in English goes, the translation done by Lucia Graves flows absolutely well. There were a few flashback sections where I found the book to be slightly uneven in its pacing, but for the majority of the novel, Zafón’s prose and Graves’ translations were extraordinarily compelling and accessible. I’m serious; I lost count on how many passages I highlighted because they were so well-written and relatable to me.

“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.”

Picture: The Shadow of the Wind by Vincent Chong

There’s simply no scarcity of insightful and wise remarks within this novel that brims with resonating themes of growing up, love, found family, friendship, and books. In equal measure, it’s also filled with revenge, loss, and tragedy. The Shadow of the Wind is an amazing piece of literature that begins and concluded its story in a richly satisfying way. Do note that although this is the first book of a quartet, the novel worked wonderfully well as a standalone; I’m actually surprised that there are three more books in the series. If any one of the sequels is as good as this one, then I know I’m in for more unforgettable stories to read.

“I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for Jamie.
142 reviews239 followers
March 27, 2011
There's probably nothing much I "learned" in the introspective sense, but this is a novel like a novel ought to be. This is an epic film on paper, gloomy and engaging, smokey, noir with crumbling ruins, young love, disfigurment, lust, torture...the stuff of Dumas, DuMauier and, as of late, The Historian. I woke up at five a.m. and had to sweet talk myself back to sleep: all I wanted to do was read. One Friday, after work, I took sanctuary in The Hotel Biron, those little tables in the dark, pages flickering with candles and drank a glass of wine in solitude, completely enthralled in the world of 1940's Barcelona.
I walked home from the train at night and found myself saying the characters names beneath my umbrella, hoping no one would hear me talking to myself, but they were, quite simply, too beautiful to ignore: Julian Carax, Daniel Semepere, Beatriz...Tomas, Penelope Aldaya and Nuria Monfort.
In a movie this would be too many people, but for this novel they were perfectly seamed, each point of view more entralling and taxing than the one before.
Most refreshing, clearly the author wasn't poisoned with the desire to simply keep the reader in the dark: instead this story, with attention, was something you could figure out--because that's the way life is. The mystery itself isn't supposed to shock you intensely into thinking a book is good, that's a dirty trick. Instead, the STORY carried you. You cared about the story and it was a tragity and mystery all the same, simply because you were invested in these people and what became of them. To know them so intimately from childhood to adulthood and old age, to know them through various degrees of point of view seperation--to hear there is no Penelope, and then to know she is a sister, a love, but to some non-existant...well, it's gothic literature at it's very best.
With a book like this I am almost, ALMOST tempted to give up my most pedantic and pretentious thoughts, paralells and character development--this story is a story and it's just that good. It is the Phantom of the Opera, those dark tunnels and pressure points, a lake with candles or drawing rooms with no fire in the grate and crazy wives being stored in attics over head. This is, quite literally a timeless tale, and yes, reading it will make you smarter, more interested, more cultured (the back of the book includes a walking tour of Barcelona. I missed Barcelona but I am quite determined to go now, with my copy of A Shadow of the Wind in hand, just like wanting desperately to visit Eastern Europe after I finished The Historian and see it all), but more importantly real life simply fades to black as you become completely, totally and fantastically helpless and wrapped up in the lives of others.
While there are fun hybrids--Crash Topics in Calamity Physics, for one, which combine a courses, authors, quotes and plot lines from a thousand famous novels, this book really makes that unnecessary. This is a classic without any help, no cheat cheats necessary. Read it. Read it. Read it.

**I write on books and other stuff at www.snapshotnarrative.tumblr.com
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,364 followers
December 31, 2022
:نعم..ثمة سجون أسوأ من الكلمات
سجون الذكريات..صقيع الفشل
عندما تقفز الشخصيات الخيالية خارج صفحات الكتب..لتصحح مفاهيمك و تنغص حياتك و تفتح عينيك قسرا

ا"الكتابة ليست سوي مرآة نرى فيها ما نمتلكه في دواخلنا..و القراءة تحتم علينا إعمال القلب و العقل معا
وهما عملتان نادرتان الآن!ا

جذبتني؛منذ ان قرأت الريفيو الانجليزي لمحمد عربي عنها.. و رايت ذلك الرسم القاتم الغامض لأب و ابنه: ينطلقان في ظل ريح عاتية الى..مقبرة الكتب المنسية.. يا له من اسم غامض موحي!!..و مقبض ايضا لكل محبي الكتب ..و مع رواية ملعونة و قلم أثري..تبدأ رحلتنا

ا"السرد هو رسالة يكتبها المؤلف ليعري روحه"ولقد
تساءلت كثيرا لماذا حققت "ظل الريح"كل هذه الشعبية منذ ترجمتها؟؟
الإجابة ببساطة لانها رواية تتكلم بمفردات عالمنا نحن :مدمني القراءة
ابطالها :صاحب مكتبة و ابنه..كاتب و ملهمته.. سكرتيرة بدار نشر و مترجم و صحفي..أصحاب دور نشر و
مقتني و تاجر للكتب النادرة..منقب عن الكتب. .و حارس لمقبرة الكتب المنسية(أحسست انها مثل هوجوارتس..لا يراها الا من يستحق )ا
إنهم المجتمع الصانع لسعادتنا..ببساطة ✏

و من الثلاثينات و حتى الخمسينات نغرق في تفاصيل حياتهم الصعبة ببرشلونة في إطار أسوأ حرب أهلية و نتساءل

لماذا تجبرنا الحياة على اتخاذ قرارات مصيرية كبري في سن 18 ؟!؟
لماذا نختار مهنتنا و ازواجنا و شكل حياتنا في سن الانفجارات الهرمونية الكبرى؟؟
لماذا نحاسب طوال العمر على أخطاء الاخرين؟
و تكون النتيجة الحتمية :جملة المؤلف الغامض خوليان كاراكاس الخالدة"لا استحق اي شيء و كفى"ا

أسئلة ستجددها في عقلك تلك الرواية الشبيهة بالوردة الجوريية الفاخرة🌹..بطبقات مخملية متداخلة من الأوراق
الرومانسية احتلت من احداثها مثلما تحتل من الحياة..ساعات قليلة ينتج عنها آلام طويلة♥ا

هي عدة روايات متداخلة. .ناقشت أوجاع النضج..آلام الهروب..صقيع الوحدة ..اهانة الضرب و الجوع و سجن الذكريات
توحدت مع دانييل.و فشلت مع خوليان. .و لكن ميجيل هو من اختطف قلبي..و رأيت نفسي في الأب سيمبري..و باستثناء نوريا الشخصيات النسائية ثانوية
النجمة الناقصة لتجاوزات إلحادية الطابع لن أستطيع تجاهلها..و ان كنت اعتدت عليها بكل اسف في كتابات الأوروبيين"فليهديهم الله تعالى بقدرته

"ترجمة رائعة لمعاوية عبد المجيد الذي بقينا معه لأربع سنوات و تركنا دانييل و اسرته في الجزء الثاني : لعبة الملاك
و انطلقنا خلف كاتب اخر هو ديفيد مارتين
و كان
موعدي مع دانييل في في الجزء الثالث
The prisoner of heaven
و اخيراً دخلت المتاهة و خرجت منها: برباعية لا تنسى

ريفيو لعبة الملاك

ريفيو: سجين السماء

ريفيو متاهة الأرواح
Profile Image for Daniel Teo.
12 reviews39 followers
January 5, 2009
After reading The Shadow of the Wind, I was left with somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, this is such a beautifully written book, and is in essence an ode to literature. On the other hand, there are some serious flaws which distracts from the whole experience.

The best thing about the book, in my opinion, is Zafon's skill in artistic writing. It reminds me of why I love to read in the first place, and makes me wish I could write as beautiful as this. The book contains lots of memorable quotes as well, definitely a good thing as far as I'm concerned.

So after about 50 pages in, I was ready to love this book as I seldom loved another book before. But as the story progressed, that resolution started to diminish slowly but surely. Ironically, one the more obvious flaws is Zafon's overuse of stylistic writing. It seems like everyone acts or talks in a very elaborate manner, even in the simplest of situations, and this can really become tiresome after a while.

The plot also isn't as ingenious as the hype would make you believe. Zafon does a good job creating a sense of mystery early on, and there are obvious parallels between the main character Daniel Sempere, and Julian Carax, the writer whose past he is trying to uncover. But ultimately, the stories of Daniel and Julian are seperate ones, and they just happen to interconnect with one another more by chance than by design.

By far the most troublesome flaw is the way the mysteries are "resolved". All too often, answers are given by having some side character or another tell his or her story for pages. Nowhere is this more evident than at the end of the book, where literally every single detail is revealed in the form of a (very) long letter, even details which the writer of the letter never could have known, since she wasn't even involved in those events. It's as if Zafon did not have a clue or the motivation to write a logical conclusion, and decided to just dump all the information in one place.

With a bit more attention to actual plot and character development, this could have been one of my favourite books. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed reading the Shadow of the Wind. It's just a shame that it falls some way short of its potential.
Profile Image for Tanja (Tanychy).
588 reviews252 followers
March 26, 2015
The fact is that I’ll never be able to write a real review for this book. Here is why :

1. I’m not good enough.
I’m not now and I’ll never be. It doesn’t matter how many books you have read or how smart you are, you’ll never be good enough for that. You won’t be able to find exact words and it’s not just you. Only person who can is the author himself, but I think he already said everything he wanted.
Don’t believe me?
- “Books are mirrors - you only see in them what you already have inside you.”
- “The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you've already stopped loving that person forever.”
- “A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.”
- “There are few reasons for telling the truth, but for lying the number is infinite.”
- “In the shop we buy and sell them, but in truth books have no owner. Every book you see here has been somebody’s best friend.”

Do you now?

2. It’s impossible.
I’ll try to describe it. It’s not the same feeling but the result is. You know that moment, or better said that feeling, when you see someone who means a lot to you and you have that beautiful feeling inside of you. Now try to describe it. You can’t? I know.

3. And last but not least....
Please allow me to quote the author:
“Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later — no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget — we will return.”
And this is mine.
Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 11 books75.3k followers
November 22, 2022
Terminé el libro pero no les voy a decir cuántas estrellas le puse todavía jejejeje.
Profile Image for Jon Cox.
195 reviews37 followers
November 24, 2009
I can't believe someone actually published this book. Even worse, in my opinion is the fact that this book is on the New York Times Bestseller List. How is this possible? It must only mean that there are a lot of people out there that think very differently from me. Don't you be one of them. Seriously. Don't be fooled by this book. It is insipid, lame, and poorly written.

First. The prose is so overblown that the author uses three adjectives for every single noun. Count them. He evidently was told that to be a writer you have to make everything as descriptive as possible, and then he decided that meant that each noun had to be modified three, always three, and only three times. Argh.

Second. The author must have looked up every word he could in a thesaurus and chosen the one that was most obscure or had the most syllables. Who is he trying to impress? Maybe it was the translator's fault? Maybe not. Either way, this style is used even when describing what the ten year old character sees and says. Which brings me to my next point.

Third. Every character in this book speaks with exactly the same voice. All you hear is the authors voice, not any different characterizations. And that voice demonstrates the problems I described in my first and second points. But that's not all. There is an even worse, and definitely fatal, problem with this book.

Fourth. This story was written as a mystery. Nine years lurch by as the character slowly tries to unravel the details of the main conflict. I actually don't have a problem with this in theory. Unfortunately, after three quarters of the book, and numerous new characters, the mystery is no clearer. So what does the author do about it? He has one of the characters write a 30 page (or so) letter to the main character telling him what really happened. Ta-da. The mystery is solved. The author is such a terrible writer that he can't even solve his own mystery. He has to use a cheap cop-out to clear everything up.

I can't respect that. Sorry. I can't believe so many other people have.

Boycott the book. Really.

Profile Image for Mark Lawrence.
Author 72 books51k followers
August 9, 2022
This is a book about books, a story about stories. It starts and ends in a library of sorts, themes and plots are echoed across decades, tied together by actors who find their roles changing, and by a pen that links two cycles of the story and has its own tale that started before and goes on beyond.

"the art of reading is slowly dying, it's an intimate ritual, a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.”

Zafón is a master of prose, he is eminently quotable even in translation. The story is set in Barcelona and stretches from the turn of the 19th century to the sixties, though focusing most heavily in post civil war Spain recovering in the 40s and 50s. It's a bitter sweet story, as much about the slow acceptance of loss as about fighting against it or finding happiness.

"Most of us have the good or bad fortune of seeing our lives fall apart so slowly we barely notice it."

The setting is vividly brought to life. Many of the characters live in poverty or close to it, and the ventures into Paris bring to mind Orwell's descriptions. Barcelona is the star of the piece though.

"one of the many places in Barcelona where the nineteenth century had not yet been served its eviction notice"

Shadow of the Wind is a love story, or two love stories, or several love stories to be honest. We focus on Daniel, a young man growing up, and becoming obsessed with the story of another man, a writer whose young life (decades earlier) is unfolded for us through Daniel's investigations. Both of them finding difficult and potentially tragic love.

"Her voice was pure crystal, transparent and so fragile I feared that her words would break if I interrupted them."

The Shadow of the Wind has a lot to say about books and reading, rather less to say about the business of writing though.

"Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."

"Novels, as everyone knew, were for women and for people with nothing better to do."

It's a complex interwoven plot, not without threat and violence, with a series of reveals that undermine what you think you know.

A fascinating and lovely read, and a nice break from the fantasy books that I have read almost exclusively over the last 5 years.

Give it a try!

Join my Patreon
Join my 3-emails-a-year newsletter #prizes

Profile Image for jessica.
2,534 reviews32.5k followers
February 18, 2020
riveting. mysterious. haunting. imaginative. charming. sentimental.

the list of adjectives is endless. and whilst this book is all of these, the one thing that i will forever remember about this book is how it makes me appreciate the art of storytelling. i didnt feel like i was reading a novel; i felt as if someone very dear was sitting next to me and telling me their favourite tale. i was enamoured with the nuances of the language and swept up with all the action. it was an absolute pleasure to experience such a well-told story. truly a masterpiece in every way possible.

5 stars
Profile Image for Rinda Elwakil .
501 reviews4,520 followers
May 10, 2019

لم يحبنا العالم و لم يسعنا، ووسعتنا أرفف مكتباتنا و حيز غرفنا الضيقة.

تنبيه: هذه رواية لا تُقرأ علي عجل، و لا في فواصل بين أعمال مهمة

ستسرقك و لن تفلتك، ستفرغ منها و لن تفرغ منك.

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
795 reviews3,612 followers
September 18, 2022
The gold standard predetermined to rule historiographic metafiction

Characters, world, and deeper meaning combined in astonishing density and quality
Some rare books have a certain something, the perfect combination of many good qualities that are rarely found in one novel and it somehow reminds me of John Irving and Dan Simmons too. It´s all so perfectly fitting together, so clever, deep, witty, add some more positive adjectives if you wish, there are just so many worth mentioning.

Big history
By using different periods of Spanish history, the author draws a living Ken Follett style history picture that especially points the finger at how all the periods are interconnected and what caused which problem. One of the essential tools for this is the

Mysterious book
This single plot device enables Zafon to make credible main story arcs and construct an amazing panorama of Spanish culture. Of course, he doesn´t just point the finger at the evil protagonist, but at the ideologies that made them monsters, which has certainly led to the one or other conservative outcry when it was published and became an international megaseller as an extra bonus. It could also be that it was the authors' intent to push the sales by especially aiming at this effect.

Inception style story within a story
Maybe one of the best uses of this trope I´ve ever seen, linked with family history. While the book is the main physical red line, the backflip retrospective time loop effect makes the character development more suspenseful and always opens questions about the many different options the story could push forward, leaving the reader no time to rest together with the great characters.

The perfect dose of sadness
There is absolutely no overkill of emotions or tragedy, it always stays in the acceptable dose range and, very probably, is credible too. See, I´ve some kind of problems with objectively assessing how good emotional descriptions are, because I tend to rate plot and ideas over characters in most of my reading (and am dead and cold inside) and novels like that are exceptions in my schedule to camouflage my totally über cool weirdness and try to understand human relationships and emotions. But with incompetent subjectivity, I deem it sweeping without escalating towards soap opera for just any moment.

Fascistic dictatorship until 1977
This historic anomaly, with the extra bonus of hardcore conservatism and Catholicism, is what makes Spain a European exception. A socioeconomic and epigenetic subject that is certainly in full focus of many humanities, as it shows the longtime effects of such terrible management styles in all fields of society. For Spanish readers, it adds the reading bonus of nonfiction facts and a move towards reappraisal and a culture of remembrance that uses objective measures just as in all other countries haunted by fascism. It´s extremely disturbing to think about the fact that Francos' terror continued for 3 decades after all other European dictatorships had been crushed in WW2.

The love for and magic of books
Many philosophical and metaphysical options to talk about imagination, the power of fantasy, or just living in fictional universes, but no matter what one picks, it´s a declaration of love for the best hobby to rule them all. And, of course, accelerate the, hopefully not backlashy and incestuously degenerating, course of history by spreading wisdom, enlightenment, and progressive ideas.

Easy to enter for all groups of readers
One of these novels everyone, no matter what genre preferences, more in character or plot focused works, should read, because the ingenuity of unique pieces like that lies in taking anything that already worked well in creative writing and endless amounts of tropes, postmodern deconstructed stereotypes, and mechanisms to assemble them to such an unforgettable reading fun.

The role of women in dark times
With full focus on how the sick, conservative, and sheer evil ideologies torture women, Zafon creates intense and sad pictures of the ultimate consequences of alpha male dominance. War and murder are the big picture, but what is often forgotten are the unknown and uncounted numbers of abused and raped women, who were forced to abort their unworthy mongrel babies, because of Christian charity and autocratic governments working together to create real life hellhole prison states.

There is no substitute
I could endlessly talk about what makes it great, but instead, I will encourage everyone to read it, and Irving and Simmons I already mentioned of course too. In all three cases, I ask myself how long it takes to write such works and how it´s even possible, although I would agree with Stephen King, who said he is envious because Simmons writes like a God. And probably all of the three are half-Gods, alien human hybrids, or something, I could find no serious scientific literature dealing with this theory, but still deem it an option.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
839 reviews3,757 followers
February 15, 2021

2/2.5 stars. Look, it's not my thing to mince my words, so I'll give you my opinion and ultimately, you'll decide what to make of it anyway : as far as I'm concerned, The Shadow of the Wind is overrated and, to say the truth, a bit of a smokescreen. Despite its obvious qualities, I have to admit that I'm a little baffled of its status given that all the flaws, if found in some random YA book, would be called out without any doubt.

Caricatures as characters, from Daniel the Romantic whose constant whining reminded me of some 18th Century hero (someone saves me from François-René de Chateaubriand, please), to the twisting-moustache villain whose mother, you guessed right, was a crazy bitch (mwahahahaha). As for the women (OMG, the WOMEN), they're either sexual creatures (often vile and manipulative, because of course *roll eyes*) or solely conceived for the Great Goal of Bearing children (or assuming their care). It's pretty simple, actually : the good girls are those who get pregnant or are desperate for it, and all women are portrayed through their looks. All of these characters were flat and forgettable in my book.

Blatant sexism pouring through every page, and before you mention it, I KNOW, the society in 1945/1950 wasn't kind on women. I do know that, yet I don't believe that the portrayal of sexist behavior had to be so IN YOUR FACE. In the past I've read historical novels that let me furious about the way women were treated and categorized into little boxes (mother, virgin, whore, if you're asking) but in The Shadow of the Wind I never felt that the issue was handled or acknowledged, or barely (they do mention it in other men, but for me they were no better). It was just THERE. All the time, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to care about characters - Fermin and Daniel, for example - who constantly objectify women, when they're not busy expressing stereotypes like, "women can't do Maths", or, "women who let you touch them the first time are whores", etc, etc. I read the French translation, so I'm not going to write down the quotes, but they are EVERYWHERE. I felt like drowning.

The instalove, anyone? Far from me the intent of spoiling the story to you, so I'll just say this : there are three couples in this story, and the THREE OF THEM suffer from major instalove (the kind where people see each other once, talk twice, and share iloveyous). What the hell?! Again, if this book was called The Storm and The Thorns, and some generic YA bullshit, it would have annoyed me, because I cannot feel invested in a romance if there's neither growth nor depth. Why in the world should I feel differently this time? I do not. Honestly? I couldn't care less.

The resolution of the intrigue did not satisfy me, because I found the way it was revealed rather lazy. Sure, I did not expect it, but after having remained in the dark during 80% of the book, I was a little disappointed by the avalanche of information that was thrown in my face, in a info-dumping fashion. Even with the interesting , it felt like such a cop-out.

The atmosphere is darkly enticing, captivating, even, and for me the real MC is Barcelona. Indeed I couldn't look away from the fascinating picture Carlos Ruiz Zafón created, from the vivid slices of life put into black and white letters. I wish the descriptions of Paris would have reached this level of brilliance, but I didn't really mind. Albeit the difficult times described, reading The Shadow of the Wind made me want to come back there, and I probably will very soon.

The writing, if not free of some cheesy figures of speech - but it could be the translation - is addictive and compelling. From the first page I was hooked, and my interest didn't falter before reaching the second half (but I already explained why).

► All in all, The Shadow of the Wind was a disappointment for me. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but in the end, the story didn't convince me, and even the message - no matter how great it was, or wanted to be - felt a bit superficial because spoiled by the lack of depth of the characters.


For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,135 reviews8,140 followers
September 11, 2021
Fifth reading: September 8-11, 2021
I can't believe it's been over 4 years since I last read this masterpiece! Part of me is glad that I waited a bit between re-reads since it let me forget some of the elements of the story, which made rediscovering them even more enjoyable. However, what I didn't forget is how much I truly love this book. And it remains my favorite book ever. I know I'm super biased, but I just think it's fantastic, and I find it hard to believe any book will ever beat this one for me. Even though I can see its criticisms (particularly the lack of well-rounded female characters in this story), my pleasure in falling headfirst into this world every time I read this book is unlike any other reading experience. I can't wait to keep visiting it with the other books in this series soon.

Fourth reading: May 7-17, 2017
Of course I love this book soooo much. It's my all-time favorite. This is the 4th year in a row I've read it, and it never gets old. If you haven't already read this at my suggestion, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

Third reading: May 14-21, 2016

Second reading: May 23-25, 2015-
Okay, I can confidently say, upon re-reading this, that it is one of my all-time favorite books. It was just as surprising and enchanting and delightful as the first time I read it, if not more so. The writing is impeccable. The weaving together of so many storylines and characters is remarkable. I can't gush enough about this book, so I will just say EVERYONE GO READ THIS NOW PLEASE. You won't regret it.

First read: May 12-17, 2014-
Everything about this novel was captivating. The story follows Daniel, a young boy, whose father is a bookseller. He is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and allowed to pick out one book that he is expected to 'save' or, in a sense, remember throughout his life. He picks a novel by Julian Carax titled "The Shadow of the Wind," and is immediately sucked into the story. From there, the novel follows Daniel as he begins to learn more about the illusive author, Julian Carax, and about the web of lies and intrigue that he gets trapped in.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous. The book is full of incredible quotes, wonderful, beautifully strung out sentences. I never underline in books. This book, however, required a pencil at the ready at all times, because I couldn't pass up underlining some amazing parts.

Though the plot isn't super strong, there is a mysterious and magical quality to the book that propels you through it, page after page. The characters feel so real, and thus their lives seem to be playing out for you in such a real way that you are concerned and invested, wanting to know what happens next.

I loved the setting of Barcelona. This is also a book translated from Spanish, which is even more impressive on the part of the translator. I think the translation was incredible.

Overall, this is a book that I will return to again in my life, I am sure. It is captivating and a new favorite. 5/5.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
August 6, 2021
La Sombra Del Viento = The Shadow of the Wind (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #1), Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The novel is actually a story within a story. The boy, Daniel Sempere, in his quest to discover Julián's other works, becomes involved in tracing the entire history of Carax.

His friend, who goes by the alias of Fermín Romero de Torres, was imprisoned and tortured in Montjuïc Castle as a result of his involvement in espionage against the government during the Civil War.

He helps Daniel in a number of ways, but their probing into the murky past of a number of people who have been either long dead or long forgotten unleashes the dark forces of the murderous Inspector Fumero. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شئه در ایران: «سایه باد»؛ «سایه ی باد»؛ نویسنده: کارلوس روییز زافون - کارلوس روئیس سافون - کارلوس روئیث ثافون؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز هشتم ماه دسامبر سال 2016میلادی

عنوان: سایه باد؛ نویسنده: کارلوس روییز زافون - کارلوس روئیس سافون - کارلوس روئیث ثافون؛ مترجم کیومرث پارسای؛ تهران، علم، 1385؛ در728ص؛ شابک 9644056876؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان اسپانیایی - سده 21م

مترجم: مهرداد بازیاری؛ تهران، هرمس، 1393؛ در هفت و 647ص؛ شابک 9789643639235؛

مترجم: نازنین نوذری؛ تهران، دیبایه، 1395؛ در 696ص؛ شابک 9786002122216؛

عنوان: سایه ی باد؛ مترجم: سهیل سمی؛ تهران، ققنوس، 1395؛ در 600ص؛ شابک 9789643116897؛

پسر یک کتاب‌فروش، در کتابخانه‌ ی کهنه‌ ی پدر خویش، در انباری خانه، کتاب «سایه‌ ی باد» را پیدا، و برای شناختن نویسنده‌ ی اثر، تلاش خود را آغاز می‌کند، و سرانجام درمی‌یابد که نویسنده‌ ی آن مردی است، با چهره‌ ای سوخته، و شبیه شبح، که گاهی ظاهر شده، و گاه از نظرها پنهان می‌ماند؛ هم‌چنین درمی‌یابد، که وی کتاب‌های بسیاری بنوشته، اما همه‌ ی آن‌ها، جز «سایه‌ ی باد» را، از بین برده است؛ اما داستان بدین‌قرار است، که دختر و پسری طی یک آشنایی، به یک‌دیگر دل‌باخته شده، و صاحب فرزندی می‌شوند، اما بعدها درمی‌یابند که دارای رابطه‌ نـَسَبی، با یکدیگر بوده‌ اند، و ...؛

نقل از آغاز متن: (هنوز روزی را که پدرم برای نخستین بار مرا به گورستان کتابهای فراموش شده برد، به یاد دارم؛ اوایل تابستان 1945میلادی بود، و وقتی سپیده چون تاجی از مس گداخته بر سر «رامبلا دو سانتا مونیکا» مینشست، ما در خیابانهای مدفون زیر آسمان خاکستریِ «بارسلونا» راه میرفتیم

پدرم هشدار داد: «دنیل، در مورد چیزی که امروز میبینی، نباید به احدی حرف بزنی، حتی به دوستت، توماس؛ هیچ کس»؛

حتی به مامان؟

پدرم آه کشید، و غمش را در پس لبخندی مغموم که سرتاسر عمر چون نقش سایه بر لبانش بود پنهان کرد؛ غمگین و غصه دار، جواب داد: «البته که میتونی به اون بگی؛ ما چیزی رو از اون مخفی نمیکنیم؛ همه چی رو میتونی به اون بگی»؛

کمی پس از جنگ داخلی، شیوع ناگهانی «وبا» مادرم را با خود برده بود؛ در چهارمین سالروز تولدم او را در «مونخوییک» دفن کردیم؛ تنها چیزی که از آن واقعه در یادم مانده، این است که سرتاسر آن روز و شب باران بارید، و اینکه وقتی از پدرم پرسیدم آیا آسمان گریه میکند، نتوانست بر خودش مسلط شود و جوابم را بدهد؛ شش سال بعد جای خالی مادرم هنوز در اطرافمان احساس میشد، فریاد سکوتی کر کننده که هنوز یاد نگرفته بودم چطور با کلمات خاموشش کنم؛ من و پدرم در آپارتمانی محقر در «کاله سانتا آنا» زندگی میکردیم، در فاصله یک سنگ انداز از میدان کلیسا؛ آپارتمانمان درست بالای کتابفروشی بود، میراث پدربزرگم که متخصص نسخه های نایاب کلکسیونرها و کتابهای دست دوم بود ــ کسب و کاری سحر شده که پدرم امیدوار بود روزی به من تعلق گیرد؛ من در میان کتابها بزرگ میشدم و در لابه لای صفحاتی که پنداری از دل غبار برآمده بودند، دوستانی نامرئی مییافتم، صفحاتی که بویشان تا به امروز نیز بر دستانم مانده است؛ در کودکی آموختم که چگونه در تاریکی اتاق خوابم حین حرف زدن با مادرم به خواب بروم و از حوادث روز، ماجراهایم در مدرسه و چیزهایی که به من آموخته بودند، برایش بگویم؛ نمیتوانستم صدایش را بشنوم یا دست نوازشگرش را حس کنم، اما تلالو و گرمای وجودش در گوشه گوشه ی خانه مان حس میشد، و من با معصومیت کسانیکه هنوز سالیان عمرشان از تعداد انگشتان دو دستشان تجاوز نکرده، اعتقاد داشتم که اگر چشمانم را ببندم و با او حرف بزنم، او هر کجا که باشد، صدایم را میشنود؛ گاهی پدرم از اتاق غذاخوری به حرفهایم گوش میداد و در سکوت میگریست)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 04/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 14/05/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,826 followers
August 31, 2015
This is an excellent piece of literature. It contains poetic storytelling, shocking twists, thoroughly developed characters, symbolism, humor, romance, betrayal, action, sentimentality, nostalgia, and much, much more.

For book lovers it is perfect because it revolves around the mysteries of a little known author (Julian Carax) that the main protagonist, Daniel, stumbles across in a secret stash of literature called the Cemetery of Forgotten books. From there it quickly develops into a fantastic story of good vs. evil; driven by jealousy and shrouded in the unknown.

I saw some complaints that this book is slow. I can understand that - it is not a light book and it is not a quick read. But, the payoff from getting immersed in the thick narrative is totally worth the extra time in the end.

Lovers of books, lovers of historical fiction, lovers of mysteries with shocking twists, lovers of complex romance/revenge story lines, lovers of ultimate good vs evil battles - step right in to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books . . . and lose yourself in The Shadow of the Wind.
Profile Image for Kevin Ansbro.
Author 5 books1,396 followers
March 30, 2020
"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it."

In post-civil war Barcelona, ten-year-old birthday boy, Daniel Sempere is taken by his father to a top-secret, labyrinthine library called 'The Cemetery of Forgotten Books' and is asked to select whichever one of the dusty publications calls out to him from an exhaustive succession of shelves.
He chooses an obscure novel, The Shadow of the Wind written by the enigmatic Julián Carax, an author whose life and work is shrouded in dark mystery.

Over time, the book awakens this socially awkward boy to fresh possibilities and new friendships in a city still handcuffed to its recent history. Daniel, himself, describes the novel thus: "It is a story of love, of hatred and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind."

In the honeymoon period of my read I was already thinking it to be one of the best books I'd picked up in a very long time and, after a handful of chapters, I was wishing that Goodreads would allow 5-star-plus ratings for special books such as this.
The author's character imagery is up there with Márquez and Rushdie (it has the comportment of magical realism, but both feet are set firmly in the realism camp). The story has heart and soul and it nobly champions the underdog in an unjust world. Look out for nasty piece of work, Chief Inspector Francisco Javier Fumero, he of the pencil moustache and greasy grin; very much the bête noire of the piece.
Záfon's expressive prose and finespun storytelling held me in a dizzy state of veneration and had me purring in my armchair like a pampered pussycat.
But, oh!
Alas, damnation and gadzooks!
Did you hear me? "Gadzooks," I said!!
The author somehow snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing his dazzling story to become bogged down by a warehouse load of wearisome narrative in the middle orders of the piece.
"Get on with it, Záfon!" I shouted.
(He didn't hear me).

And where's a book defibrillator when you need one?

It's a real shame because this book is infused with brilliance; Carlos Ruiz Záfon is incontestably touched by greatness.
In my humble opinion, this magical rites-of-passage/good-versus-evil sprawl of a novel would have easily merited that notional 5-star-plus rating, were it not for the drawn-out tedium of its meandering epicentre. Editing out a hundred or more pages would've done this a power of good.
I'm still awarding it 4.5, rounded up to 5. Its sublimity outweighs its imperfections.

And listen up, my Goodreads' brothers, sisters, funsters, pseuds, bibliophiles and savants.
Daniel Sempere's book epiphany is one which will resonate with each and every one of you.
For each of us, there is one book that has been waiting for us from before we were born.
I wonder which one is yours? : )
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,277 followers
June 5, 2018
Sound the alarm! Unpopular opinion to follow! (Making this review a bit more personal than usual, because I can't slam a one-star review on this highly popular title without giving some explanation for my disappointment).

To put it simply: verbose and wearying. Zafón seems to have swallowed a thesaurus and proceeds to regurgitate synonyms with unrelenting force. In The Shadow of the Wind, a man does not simply urinate, he "discharge[s] his generous, steamy cascade."

The Shadow of the Wind is an ode to books that's not so much Gothic literature as it's a telenovela, a trait that's only exacerbated by Jonathan Davis' melodramatic delivery as narrator.

Female characters fall into one of two categories: either beautiful and voluptuous, with tremulous breasts, shapely calves, and a body suitable for impregnating, or unattractive old women whose haggard appearance deems them unsuitable for bedding. Every sex scene is so awkward, I found myself repeatedly wondering if this book was penned by a virgin.

Death is a constant threat - at every turn, for every character - until it bears no gravity.

Zafón: *mentions death*
Me: *rolls eyes, yawns*

The opening pages had me worried, because of one particular detail - one detail - that told me this would be a book I wasn't liable to get along with. I should have heeded my intuition and saved myself eighteen grueling hours of slogging through this tiresome audiobook. The opening scene that planted the first seed of concern:
On that June morning, I woke up screaming at first light. My heart was pounding in my chest as if it feared that my soul wanted to carve its way out and run off down the stairs. My father hurried into my room and he held me in his arms, trying to calm me.

[. . .] We looked at each other in the half-light, searching for words that didn't exist. For the first time, I realized my father was growing old. He stood up and drew the curtains to let in the pale glint of dawn.

"Come, Daniel, get dressed. I want to show you something," he said.

"Now? At five o'clock in the morning?"

I ask you, when has a child ever been aware of, or concerned with, what time in the morning they've woken their parents? That line reeks of contrived drama.

I wanted to like this book, truly, but it wasn't the right fit for me. Between the bloated writing, sexism, and exhausting abundance of drama, reaching the final page was an absolute chore.
Profile Image for فهد الفهد.
Author 1 book4,767 followers
February 15, 2016
ظل الريح

هذا هو الجزء الأول من رباعية (مقبرة الكتب المنسية) للإسباني كارلوس رويث زافون، الرباعية منفصلة يمثل كل جزء منها كتاباً مستقلاً، صدر حتى الآن ثلاثة أجزاء، ترجم الجزء الأول وسيصدر قريباً وبانتظار الثاني والثالث والتي أتمنى ألا تتأخر كثيراً، فقد تركني الكتاب الأول مذهولاً، هل تعرفون الكتب اللذيذة؟ تلك الكتب التي تذكرك عندما تفرغ منها بلمَ أحببت القراءة من البداية!! تلك الكتب التي تشبه حلماً جميلاً، قصص متشابكة تدور في أجواء محببة، هذا ما صنعه لنا زافون، برشلونة ما بعد الحرب، شاب يدعى دانيال سيمبري يقوده والده إلى مكان غريب يدعى مقبرة الكتب المنسية حيث تحفظ الكتب التي تقترب من الاندثار، يختار صاحبنا الكتاب الذي سيتكفل بحفظه، رواية بعنوان (ظل الريح) لروائي برشلوني مجهول يدعى خوليان كاراكس، من هنا تنطلق القصة من هو الرجل الغامض الذي يفتش عن كتب خوليان ويحرقها، ما هي قصة خوليان ولماذا فر من برشلونة؟ هل هو حي أم قتل في مبارزة غامضة؟ قصص صغيرة تتكشف لنا، نلج متاهة لذيذة، نتعرف على شخصيات رائعة، من منا لن يحب فيرمين روميرو؟ هذه الشخصية الطريفة والمجنونة.

عظيمة هذه الرواية، لا تفوت!!
Profile Image for Simon.
35 reviews15 followers
June 29, 2013
It's been a couple years since I read this book so I shouldn't and won't go into details, but the effect has lingered all this time. There's no other book I'm quicker to recommend than this one. It's not that it's particularly important in a lot of the ways "important" books are, it's just that it works as pure reading pleasure (and sometimes, isn't that enough?); so I find reviews from people desperate to discover structural flaws and stylistic cliches to be totally missing the point. Buy it new, breathe in the perfume of those pages, tell your friends and family you're going to be busy for a few days and disappear into it.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
October 21, 2019
I loved this book so much that I feel like my tears should speak for themselves and I don't even need to review it. At the same time, I want to shout from the rooftops about how good this book is. So here I am.

This book is the perfect mix of dark brooding mystery with a wistful romance and a melancholy, bookish main character. There's so many elements that are effortlessly held afloat by the gorgeous, melodic, and yet digestible writing. I tabbed the everloving sunshine out of this book because there's so many astute and haunting lines; Zafón is truly a talented writer who I certainly see myself reading more from.

My only issue throughout the book was the way the mystery unfolded, but it was more of a user error because I took so long to read this book that between sittings, I would forget all the details about which character is who. Also, the perspective jumping from character to character could be a bit startling, but by the end of this book when I spent the last 50 pages sobbing and hugging my cat as I read on, I couldn't give a single damn about this minor storytelling blip.

Very few books earn the title of a masterpiece from me, but this is one of them. It takes you on a complete journey with characters so lifelike and human, eccentric and lovely, twisted and vile. I foresee this being a book that, when I pass it in a book shop, I will stroke its spine lovingly and remember the hours I spent cuddled with it, lost in its alternating gloomy and hopeful moods.
Profile Image for Mohammed Arabey.
709 reviews5,618 followers
October 28, 2018
ذكرتني هذه القصة بتلك العرائس الروسية المفرغة والتي تحوي علي عدد كبير من النماذج المصغرة منها بداخلها، خطوة بخطوة تكتشف أن الحكاية انقسمت إلي آلاف القصص وكأنها دخلت لبيت المرايا وتفتت في انعكاسات لا نهائية

بالرغم من ان تلك المقولة قالها دانيل حول رواية "ظل الريح" بمنتصف الكتاب، فبنهاية روايته نفسها وجدت الجملة تنطبق عليها ايضا
فالرواية هي عدة قصص متراكبة بها غموض، إثارة وتشويق -واقل القليل من الملل احيانا-، متميزة ويغلب عليها الشجن
هي قصص عن العمر والزمن، المصائر المتشابكة، عن الروايات وعشق الكتب
عن الصداقات القديمة المفقودة، عن الأبوة، عن الحب الذي كان وصار ذكري، ولكن دون فقدان الأمل
وايضا، هي قصة بلد في ظروف صعبة

اهلا بكم في برشلونة ، ابان الحرب العالمية الثانية..عصر الديكتاتورية والظلم...والدماء

هي حكاية صبي "دانيال" يحاول كشف أسرار حياة وغموض نهاية مؤلف روائي غير شهير بعد قراءة إحدي رواياته، ولكن شخص غامض يبحث عن كل نسخ رواياته ليحرقها

ليطارد دانيال اشباح من الماضي في تحقيقاته في صداقة مفقودة وحب ضائع ، ولتتشابك قصة حياة دانيال، مراهقته وشبابه والذي في متقبل عمره مع قصة ماضي مؤلف روايته المفضلة

في حقبة زمنية و مكان غني بالأحداث الحقيقية ، برشلونة إبان الحرب العالمية الثانية ووقوعها تحت الحكم الديكتاتوري...ومع لمحة من الخيال والسحر جعلت من الرواية تراجيديا بديعة
لا أنكر أن من بعد الفصل الأول الذي به مقبرة الكتب المنسية الرهيبة، الغامضة الساحرة ، بدأت اشعر بشئ من الملل من كثرة الوصف والتفاصيل بلا احداث لبضعة فصول..وبعض الحوارات المطولة لأحد الشخصيات -عميقة تصلخ للاقتباسات ولكنها مطولة احيانا زائدة عن اللزوم - لقد كانت فعلا متعددة الحكايات والش��صيات
كالعرائس الروسية "ماتريوشكا" كما قال بطل الرواية

ثم اكتشفت الطبقات الداخلية للحكاية مع مرور الوقت في الأحداث ، مع مرور الزمن.. مع النوستاليجا
حزن لدرجة ان عيني امتلاءت بالدموع قبل نهايتها ..وظلت حتي النهاية
ولكن دعنا لا نفسد لك الحكاية ولنحكي شيئا عن طبقات القصة


** هي قصة عن الكتب **
"الكتب هي مرايات : انت فقط تري فيهم ما هو بداخلك مسبقا"

وعندما زار الفتي دانيال سيمبر مع أبيه لاول مرة وهو في عمر العاشرة ذلك المكان الكئيب العجيب السحري، مقبرة الكتب المنسية، جنة عشاق الكتب كدانيال وأبيه والكثير من شخصيات الرواية، ليختار كتابا ليتبناه ...فإنه إختار "ظل الريح" لجوليان كاركس، وعشقه...بل صار مهووسا بأسلوب المؤلف وبدأ يبحث عن المزيد من رواياته...ولكنه وصل لطريق مسدود

فجوليان كاركس مات في ظروف غامضة ، وكل نسخة من كل رواياته يتم جمعها وحرقها من شخصية غامضة تسعي لمحو اي ذكري للمؤلف...كل قطعه من روحه موجودة بالكتب
** هي قصة عن روح الكتب **
" كل كتاب، كل مجلد تراه هنا، له روح. روح الشخص الذي كتبه، وأولئك الذين يقرؤونه، يعيشونه ويحلمون به. في كل مرة الكتاب يتنقل من يد لآخري، ويقع نظر احدهم علي صفحاته، فإن روح الكتاب تنمو وتقوي"

ولكن بطل قصتنا ،دانيال، لم يعلم ان بقراءته للرواية وتغلغله في روح مؤلفها كاراكس والبحث حول قصته الحقيقية وغموض حياته وظروف وفاته أنها ستقوده لل��ديد من القصص المتشابكة بل والتي ستتداخل مع حياته نفسه الشخصية ...وربما تتشابك وتتماثل مع مصيره
** هي قصة عن شخصيات ومصائر متشابكة **
وبينما يبحث دانيال عن الحقيقة وراء كاركس، يلتقي بالعديد من الشخصيات المختلفة ويكون صداقات متنوعة مثل فيرمين روميرو دي تورز الهارب من بطش البوليس السياسي الفاشي
وبالرغم من دوره المهم في مساعدة دانيال في رحلة البحث عن لغز كاركس،إلا أن مطاردة الضابط الفاشي الفاسد المفتش خافيير فيرمو له سيجعل الأمور صعبة بحق، وسيتشابك مصيره مع دانيال وأبيه

هناك ايضا الاب فيرناندو راموس وذكريات الصداقات القديمة الضائعة
وهناك نورا مونفورت وقصة حياتها الحزينة التي أوجعت قلبي كثيرا ، علاقتها المفقودة بأبيها، وحب عمرها الذي لم يكن لها يوما ضاع للأبد، كاراكس
بل إن قصة حب كاراكس مع حبه الوحيد واخت صديقه ستتشابه كثيرا مع قصة دانيال مع حبه لاخت صديقه الوحيد، وحتي شخصية نورا الحزينة ستجد لها صدي في حياة دانيال قد يتمثل في حكايته المؤلمة مع كلارا الحسناء العمياء العاشقة للكتب

والاهم، هناك سيمبر ،والد دانيال والذي من اجمل صور شخصيات الأب في الروايات بحق، عشقت علاقته مع إبنه وتطورها علي مدار الاحداث...الزمن
** وهي قصة عن الأب **
"وجدت أبي نائما في كرسيه، وملاءة تغطي ساقيه وكتابه المفضل علي حجره -نسخة من كتاب فولتير كانديد- والتي أعاد قرأتها بضع مرات كل عام، المرات الوحيدة التي أسمعه يضحك فيها من قلبه
تأملته : شعره رماديا، يخف، وجلد وجهه بدأ يرتخي حول الخد. نظرت للرجل الذي ظننته يوما لا يقهر: هو الأن يبدو هشا، مهزوما دون أن يدري ذلك. ربما كلانا مهزومان. ملت عليه لأغطيه بالملائة التي كان يعد لسنوات بالتبرع بها ، وقبلت جبينه، وكأني بفعلي هذا يمكنني حمايته من المخاطر الخفية التي ستبعده عني، عن هذه الشقة الصغيرة، وعن ذكرياتي. كما لو أن بهذه القبلة يمكنني أن أخدع الزمن واقنعه أن يتخطانا...أن يعود يوما أخر، بحياة اخري"

غريب ان تدمع عيني وأشعر بهذا الشجن من تلك الجملة الاخيرة اليوم، 29 يوليو، بعد 8 شهور من قراءة الرواية

علاقة الأب وابنه بتلك الرواية جميلة بديعة بحق...منذ ان اصطحب ابنه ليختار كتابا...وحتي نهاية الرواية
الزمن الذي لا يمكننا خداعه...سيمر بنا ولن يتخطانا كما تمني دانيال
** وهي قصة عن الزمن **

وهذا ما يؤسرني في الحكايات..يلمس قلبي بلمسة باردة تسبب الرجفة ، ولكني لا أمل من قراءة مثل تلك الروايات العظيمة عن الزمن خاصا عندما تكون مكتوبة بجمال وسحر كتلك الرواية

أن الز��ن هو مايتكرر...يعيد نفسه..جعل جميع المصائر متشابكة...القلم الحبر الأنيق..الحب..الصداقة..الكتب..البيانو
قد تصنف ك"واقعية سحرية" ولكن كما نبهني أحد الأصدقاء ، المؤلف محمد مجدي ، أن الرواية ليست بها جانب "الميتافيزيقا" كحل لكل هذا السحر
ولكنه يظل سحرا بحق واقعيا

** هي قصة عن مدينة تواجه اوقات عصيبة **

"هذه المدينة ساحرة. هل تعلم ذلك يادانيال؟ إنها تتسلل تحت جلدك وتسرق روحك دون ان تعلم؟"

ربما هي عن برشلونا، أسبانيا في أوقات عصيبة ، او "مدينة الظلال" في "أيام الرماد" كما اسمتها فصول تلك الرواية
وهي اسماء تليق بفصول الرواية فعلا حيث في خلفية أحداث قصة دانيال هناك قصة الحرب الأهلية بإسبانيا وسنوات ما قبل الحرب العالمية الثانية وصعود الفاشية والقمع بعد سقوط برشلونة

ولكن وصف المدينة بالسحر التفصيلي، شوارعها والترام الذي يخترقها...وطابعها القوطي بالأخص منذ وصف الأبواب الرهيبة لمقبرة الكتب المنسية …. مناخها و أشعة الشمس بحواريها الضيقة وحتي العاصفة الثلجية بنقطة ذروة أحداث الرواية ، كل هذا مكتوب بسحر حقيقي يجعل ليس فقط من المدينة ساحرة، بل الرواية نفسها ساحرة..تتسلل تحت جلدك رغم بعض اجزاءها البطيئة نوعا، الا انها ستخدرك وتتسلل حتي تسلب روحك بنهايتها ، وتجعل رحلتك بها لا تنسي

كما فعل جوليان كاراكس مع دانيال سيمبر، سيفعل كارلوس زافون معك

هل قلت لك انها قصة عن المصائر المتشابكة؟

محمد العربي
قراءة من 14 ديسمبر 2015
الي 22 ديسمبر 2015

الريفيو العربي في 29 يوليو 2016
August 25, 2022
Exquisite is a word I have reserved for that extra special gem and the “…enchanted sense of promise” that comes with stories like “The Shadow of the Wind”. I savoured the pages, and was mesmerised and captivated with this book that will remain in my mind for a long time. With its beautiful writing, and gorgeous storytelling, it is a story of love, of hate, of tragedy and the dreams that live and disappear in the shadow of the wind.

The Plot

An antique book dealer takes his son Daniel to the secret and mysterious cemetery of Forgotten books, a labyrinth of obscure and forgotten book titles that have since gone out of print but have soul that live on in the people that read them.

“… you only see in them what you already have inside you.... Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.”

In choosing a book called the Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, Daniel embarks on a dangerous path of discovery, when he makes a chilling encounter with who he believes is Laín Coubert the name of a character in the book he has just read; and it is the name of the Devil himself. Faced by this strange and dark person from the shadows, Daniel refuses to give up or sell the book and so a ten-year journey begins and a literary hunt for the Carax’s story and those he loved and lost. The story takes us to Barcelona, into towering mansions and eerie back-streets, and to Paris where Carax wrote most of his novels whilst longing for his lost love, and then back to Spain for the climatic ending.

Review and Comments

The Shadow of the Wind is an impressively accomplished and stunning novel that captures your imagination and carries you through a story or passion and hatred, of heart and soul, of beauty and of longing with an abundance of anticipation, adventure and thrill as Daniel seeks to discover the life and story behind the author Carax.

The standout quality of the book has to be the authors writing style and his extraordinary command over language. There is a dreamlike quality to the writing, that was so enchanting and beautiful, I felt totally captivated and almost bewitched by the story and trapped inside the world the author created for us.

However, the attributes of the book don’t stop there, the characters are superb, so well developed and compelling, that they come alive in the storytelling and with well-crafted dialogue. The plot is superb, however, if there was one negative to add, the flow of the book and structure of the book was not perfect in my opinion because it wasn’t always clear who was narrating the story. Yet any negative is certainly overshadowed by the book’s brilliance, the soul and enchanting but heart-breaking story linking two generations.

I love the quote, “books are like mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you”

I could not recommend highly enough. I would give 6 stars if I could.
Profile Image for دعاء ممدوح.
180 reviews255 followers
December 3, 2018
ليست أول رواية سيئة أقرأها لكنها تحظى بتقييم مرتفع بين قراء الجودريدز، ولن تكون الأخيرة
قرأت تلك الرواية بسقف توقعات مرتفع، لكني راهنت على جواد خاسر
الرواية تدور في مدينة برشلونة أيان الحكم الديكاتوري للجنرال فرانكو، الراوي طفل صغير ووالده يمتلك متجر للكتب، في بداية الرواية يصطحب الوالد ابنه الوحيد لما يسمي مقبرة الكتب المنسية، حيث يوجد نسخة من كل كتاب مهدد بالضياع، ينتقي الولد كتاب بشكل عشوائي ليحتفظ به، ليقع حظه على رواية لكاتب اسباني مغمور عنوانها ظل الريح
الرواية تدور بعد ذلك في خطان متوازيان، حياة الراوي وهو يكبر وبخاصة حياته العاطفية، والخط الموازي يدور حول رحلته للبحث عن الكاتب الغامض مؤلف رواية ظل الأفعي، الانتقال بين الخطان لم يكن سلساً على الاطلاق، بمجرد أن تندمج في أحدهما حتي ينقلك الكاتب إلى الخط الموازي فجأة بعد أن تكون قد نسيت الكثير من أحداثه، وكعادة كل الأعمال اللاتينية، الرواية مزدحمة جداً بالشخصيات وهو ما يربك القارئ في النهاية، وكثير منها شخصيات ثانوية، بمجرد أن تحفظ اسم شخصية حتى تختفى
السرد مربك للغاية، وتيرة الأحداث تتصاعد بشكل جيد في بعض فصول الرواية، ثم تتباطئ بشكل يثير ملل القارئ في فصول أخرى، ولا تبدأ باكتشاف مغزى الرواية إلى وهي تقارب على الانتهاء
كما قلت الرواية واقعية بها ظل من الفانتازيا، وتوجد بها ثغرات تهدم أي عمل أدبي، ومنها السهولة الغريبة التي تحكي بها عدة شخصيات مختلفة تفاصيل خاصة للراوي عن الكاتب الذي يبحث عنه
بشكل عام رواية مملة، ويبدو أن حظي عاثر مع الأدب اللاتيني في التفرة الأخيرة
February 2, 2022
Mysterious, atmospheric and compelling!
“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945 … ‘Daniel, you mustn’t tell anyone what you’re about to see today,’ my father warned.”
This fantastic opening sets the scene for an eerie and mysterious story that changes the air you occupy and brings goosebumps and chills as you weave through the adventure Daniel embarks on.

The tradition for those that are fortunate to visit the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ for the first time is that they get to adopt a book. Daniel, on his first visit, chooses ‘Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax. Or the book picks him! Daniel, along with his father, his father’s friend, Barcelo, and Barcelo’s niece Clara, investigate the background of the author, only to realise that this is a heartbreaking story of doomed love and grief. Their research uncovers the dramatic events that befell Julain Carax and his beloved Penelope, and this copy of the book may be the last surviving version of ‘Shadow of the Wind’.

Years later, out walking one night, through a misty, chilling Barcelona, a mysterious rasping voice calls Daniel from the shadows and offers any amount of money for the book. By match-light, Daniel sees a burnt, grotesque, and mutilated face demanding the book be handed over, and for his sake and the sake of his friend Clara he better give it to him. When Daniel asks what he wants to do with the books, the voice croaks “Burn them”.

Daniel keeps the book and searches for the truth and secrets that lie behind it and its author. Shadow of the Wind is a wonderfully written story with subtle complexities and layers, creating a blanket of chilling apprehension as you follow Daniel uncovering the good, the bad, and the ugly retribution surrounding Carax. The characters offer depth and range, and you’re not quite sure what intentions are genuine and where your sympathies will lie at the end. The hot, misty, atmospheric Barcelona is exceptionally well characterised and seems to seep through the skin, which adds to the mood of suspense and mystery.

A masterpiece and one of my favourite books of all time. While the series is outstanding this first book is the crème de la crème. I would highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for emma.
1,825 reviews48.3k followers
April 28, 2021
I, too, have a cemetery of forgotten books. A mental one, if you will.

And I am filing this one under "to forget" straightaway.

This book has been on my to-read list for what feels like 11 years, but was probably between 2 and 4. It seems like required reading for anyone who a) likes books, b) likes genre-bending blends of literature and fantasy, or c) enjoys fun books but is also pretentious.

I'm all three, so this seemed dreamy.

And then I found a copy of it in a used bookstore and the cat lady cashier recommended it as I was buying it (which is always a good sign), and it seemed dreamiER.

And then I started reading it, and for the first 15% it still seemed dreamy.

And then it took me almost two weeks to finish it because I dreaded even picking it up.

Everything about this fell apart for me. The pacing, the characters, my interest, the treatment and discussion of women, the themes, the setting. I didn't care about anything I was supposed to and sometimes I was even growing AGGRAVATED.

I hate to be aggravated.

I am glad this book is a ~modern classic~ and so many people's all time favorite and blah blah blah but honestly...

I don't even understand how people like this book.

And that almost never happens to me.

Bottom line: Sorry, everyone! Except really I feel like you should apologize to me.


...except this one, for me.

review to come / 2ish stars

tbr review

books about books are the best kind of books
Profile Image for Nataliya.
744 reviews11.9k followers
April 26, 2023
"Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."
Well, I wonder then what part of me I saw inside this book - a book I adored despite its imperfections, despite its frequent veering into melodrama, despite (or maybe because of?) its densely Gothic atmosphere.

Whatever it was, it was enough to make me lose myself completely in the rich setting of mid-20th century Barcelona, in the world of seductive dangerous power of literature and perils and passions of young love, and the contrasts of idealistic innocence with the weariness of experience, all against the rich tapestry of the city full of beauty and secrets and vividness, all told in a lavish idiomatic language that makes you forget you're reading a translation.

And over all of this gothic surreal passion turned into words hangs a real grim presence of those in power who can come after you whenever they please, and who will try to silence you whenever they feel like it.

"I told her how until that moment I had not understood that this was a story about lonely people, about absence and loss, and that that was why I had taken refuge in it until it became confused with my own life, like someone who has escaped into the pages of a novel because those whom he needs to love seem nothing more than ghosts inhabiting the mind of a stranger."
This is really a story within a story. Narrated by a young Daniel Sempere, it chronicles his transformation from a child to a young man in a Francoist post-war Spain, his loves and obsessions, his brushes with the world of mysteries and reality - both of these worlds equally dangerous and fascinating. But Daniel is really a medium through which we learn the heart and soul of this book - the story of Julián Carax, a man who wrote a book that finds its way into Daniel's life, a man whose past and present shape the course of all the events in this narrative, Julián Carax who seems to be the embodiment of both driving force and destructive force in the pages of this novel.
“There are few reasons for telling the truth, but for lying the number is infinite.”
This book left me in an enchanted daze, and I'm still struggling to figure out why or how. What was it exactly that made it so easy for me to overlook the imperfections and blemishes of this story - the not-uncommon sexist male gaze, the telenovela-like melodramatic developments, the sometimes strange choices of inserting exposition into the narrative flow.
"A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise."
And the only answers I can find are these - it was the fantastic engrossing atmosphere and the sincere unabashed love of literature, combined with the language that sings to you in all its exuberant beauty.

The atmosphere is built on a classic Gothic setting. The foreboding darkness haunts the story, complete with foreshadowings, strange haunted old mansions, dark secrets waiting to be unearthed, feverish passions and dark past tormenting the characters, emotional epistolary confessions, menacing villains, and dark stormy nights in abundance. Shadows are everywhere, and things lurk in them, be sure of that. And destiny seems to reach in with its meddling hand and place things in necessary to it order. And the tortured, passionate love stories - oh yes, they are here, too.
"Memories are worse than bullets.”
And yet the framing setting of 1950s grounds the Gothic atmosphere, forces it into reality. And the pervasive sharp humor makes the story quite self-aware of its own stylized nature, making the elements that can easily turn annoying into fascinating bits instead.
"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."
Daniel, a son of a bookshop owner, has a special connection with books - after all, he was introduced by his father to the mysterious place known as Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a place in the heart of Barcelona where abandoned books are stored, a place from where he is allowed to 'adopt' a book - and what calls to him is the book by an obscure writer Julián Carax, a Barcelonian himself, a man long-dead, a man whose remaining books are hunted and burned by a mysterious stranger.
"I began to believe that Julián was not a man, he was an illness."
It's Julián Carax, his elusive past and present, the enigma that surrounds the man and is impossible for Daniel to resist that form the cornerstone, the centerpiece of this novel. Julián, a tragic hero of the Gothic novel, whose life and character are slowly revealed bit by bit, until you realize you are just as enchanted with him as the people who have met him seem to be - and all that without Julián ever making an appearance himself. And by the time we see the warning signs of Julián's single-minded destructive obsession, it is too late to turn back, and we begin to understand the strange obsession with him that more than one character carries.
"There are worse prisons than words."
This book is an example of the journey, not the destination. The plot twists are not pivotal. The reveals that come are not that important, and there are plenty of clues for the reader to come to the conclusions well before they are revealed.

What is important, however, is allowing yourself to step into the world Zafón creates, into the early- and mid-century Barcelona, under the shadow of gothic buildings, into the world that no longer exists.

Lovely, lovely book; not perfect but engrossing and beautiful, and well-deserving of the attention it has received. Reading it is a quite an experience. 4 stars.
"Once, in my father's bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget — we will return."
Profile Image for Warwick.
824 reviews14.5k followers
December 20, 2012
Dire. The writing is along Dan Brown lines, with flowery metaphors mixed until they become meaningless. From page 1: "My father sighed, hiding behind the sad smile that followed him like a shadow all through his life." How can he be hiding behind it if it's following him? Then on the next page someone is described as having "vulturine features", but in the following sentence he has an "aquiline gaze". This sloppiness is everywhere.

The whole thing feels like it desperately wants be seen as some kind of profound parable, but the only result is that the characters are just implausible symbols. They are too bland even to hate – unlike the book itself, which I loathed.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 47,379 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.