The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

June 27, 2010 § 19 Comments

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

This is a book that I find a little difficult to talk about. I’m not sure if it’s the somewhat complex storyline, or if it’s my own impression towards the story and its language. The Shadow of the Wind feels like the kind of book that would warrant quite a lot of discussion, yet I’m at a loss of what I can say about it.

To put it as simply as I can, the story is about a boy, Daniel, who discovers a book titled “The Shadow of the Wind”, written by a Julian Carax. He reads and falls in love with the book, and decides to hunt down all the other books that Carax has written. His determination to find Carax’s books brings him on a journey that is so similar to that of a character in Carax’s book, I started to get a little lost.

In a way, this book reads like a thriller. At almost every page, there’s something new to discover, some secret to find out, some identity exposed. There’s almost never a dull moment; something is always happening. And not only that, there seems to be a million stories going on at the same time: Carax’s book, Carax’s own life, Daniel’s life…

Step by step the narrative split into a thousand stories, as if it had entered a gallery of mirrors, its identity fragmented into endless reflections.

I had started the book with somewhat high expectations. To read a book about another book sounded exciting to me. In the end, though, I’m not sure that the book did nearly enough for me to fully enjoy it as much as I would have liked to. It could very possibly have been my own fault, as I had spread the reading of this book throughout an entire month. For such a fast-paced book, perhaps it would have worked much better for me had I read it within a few days.

But still, it fell a little short of my expectations. The language used was beautiful, but at some points I found it all a little too flowery, sugar-coated almost, to the point where I wish Zafon could have kept it just a little simpler. No doubt that there are many phrases that are just lovely, but somehow the language stayed in its own place, never quite integrating into the storyline. For me at least.

A story is a letter the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.

A story about writing stories, about reading and about books. I just wish The Shadow of the Wind could have made me feel the way The Shadow of the Wind in the book made Daniel feel.

Rating: 3

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§ 19 Responses to The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

  • Aimee says:

    I felt the same way. Despite the promising plot, I wasn’t impressed by the language and it all became a bit jumbled. I felt a similar way about The Angels Game, too.

  • mee says:

    I just read the review of the book recently by Steph. You both weren’t impressed. I have the book on my tbr, and now I don’t feel like reading it anymore!

    • Michelle says:

      Well, it’s not horrible, and there were some beautiful gems to be found in it. You might enjoy it, you never know.

  • savidgereads says:

    Oh dear, I loved this book when I read it I have to say. I don’t know why but I have distanced myself from the sequel somewhat and I dont quite know why that is? I loved the characters and the thriller aspect of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and wanted to get lost in the cemetery of forgotten books, that to me sounded like a dream world to roam through. Maybe I need a re-read though I would be mortified if I didnt love it as much now as my memory does.

    • Michelle says:

      You’re definitely not the only one who’s read and loved this book. It came with such high recommendations, I can only imagine there were many others who feel the same way you do about the book.

  • sagustocox says:

    I still have not read anything by this author, but it seems that people either love his writing or fell meh about it.

    • Michelle says:

      I think that’s how it is for a lot of authors. It’s difficult to find an author that’s loved by everyone without exception.

  • Mark David says:

    I’ve been curious about this book, especially since the author and the book will be featured in the BBC Book Club this July. But the thing that’s been holding me back is the size of it. It’s quick a thick volume, isn’t it? Well anyway, since you’re not that impressed, I suppose I can hold off from buying it, at least for now 😀

    • Michelle says:

      It’s quite thick, yes. But I recommend reading it within a short period of time, if my experience is anything to go by. The plot is quite complex, and if you spread it out too much, you might easily get confused by the many characters and their intertwining stories.

  • Mark David says:

    Oh, and I’m glad to see you blogging again, by the way 🙂

  • Frances says:

    “…but somehow the language stayed in its own place, never quite integrating into the storyline. For me at least.”

    And for me too. I enjoyed how atmospheric the novel is but could not deal with the purplish prose at some point. Some felt it was for effect, intentionally over-blown but that explanation did not work for me either.

    • Michelle says:

      Somehow I’m glad it’s not just me who felt that way about the language. Sometimes I find simpler language easier to indulge in.

  • Iris says:

    I have this on my TBR pile. I was really looking forward to reading it, but now I’m not so sure anymore..

    • Michelle says:

      Well, like what I said to Mee. Many others have read and really loved the book, so you never know if this one’s for you. =)

  • 😦

    I absolutely loved this book. I got completely caught up in the plot, and couldn’t put the book down!

    Then, I read The Angel’s Game by Zafon, and was seriously unimpressed. It just fell flat, and made me wish I hadn’t read it. It’s not that it was bad… just… you know, it didn’t meet the expectations. Hate it when that happens!

  • Nish says:

    I haven’t read any of his books. I generally find flowery language in many books written by Latin American authors, so this is nothing that unexpected.

    I am sorry to find that the story is also disappointing.

    • Michelle says:

      I haven’t read that many Latin American authors, so what you’ve said is news to me. I’ll take note of that the next time I pick up another Latin American book, and see if there’s a pattern there. =)

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