Monday, October 10, 2005

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

# Paperback: 496 pages
# Publisher: Penguin, 2005
# Price: $15.00
# ISBN: 0143034901

I was drawn to Shadow of the Wind by its cornerstone premise of a love for books, a love so encompassing that one becomes nearly so immersed in a good story, richly told, that life and art blur boundaries. What a magical process that is! And so I opened the cover and began turning the pages...

A boy wanders through the dusky corridors of a cemetery of forgotten books, brought there by his father. He is allowed to choose one. The reader thrills to the possibilities, just as the character thrills, searching for that most special book. He chooses "The Shadow of the Wind" by a mysterious author, Julian Carax. The author's books seem to disappear from bookshelves everywhere, no one knows why or who is stealing them, later burning them to total destruction. The boy, Daniel, becomes enmeshed in the book, its author, and the mystery surrounding both.

The story about the story unfolds with an array of colorful, well developed, unforgettable characters. Love stories in Daniel's life, as he reaches adulthood, appear to run parallel to the tragic love stories of author Carax's life. Secrets tunnel into further secrets, and the human suffering as a result of all these hidden places in hearts and homes, spanning generations, escalates to an almost unbearable level. But we bear along. For Zafon's writing is lush and rich and enticing. He brings a fictional world built around a fictional work as alive as our own reality, so that we are lost in the story, in the way that wonderful books invite us to lose ourselves for a moment in time, to emerge covered with the fine golden dust of literary art.

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