Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon

Rating – Read if you have the time

This book was gifted by a friend. This meant that I had not heard about the book or read a review somewhere. This can be a scary gift if it comes from people who don’t know you or who don’t like reading (Once I was gifted Paulo Coelho’s Brida. Ouch.). It can also be a good thing when someone whose tastes you like, gives you the book. Even if they have not read the book, you know they would not have picked it up unless it sounded promising.

The book begins in a very promising manner. Young Daniel is taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten books, a place where books that have faded out of circulation are kept. Each visitor to the cemetery picks up a book which they are supposed to protect for life. When I read about the cemetery, I thought it was a brilliant concept and waited for the story to develop the concept more fully. This explains why the rest of the book was a tad disappointing despite being a reasonably well-spun out tale.

Daniel chooses ‘Shadow the Wind’ by Julian Carax. Needless to say, someone is out to destroy the book. He starts digging deeper into the story behind the book and ends meeting various people, all of whom will become part of the giant puzzle on what is really going on.

The book is set in post war-Barcelona of the 1940s. The descriptions of Barcelona are lovely enough to make you look wistfully at Thomas Cook ads. The segments on the war are however, not too informative or insightful. The characterization is above-average, with a few characters like those of Fermin, really standing out.

The plot is reasonably predictable as one crosses the halfway point. When one can already guess what is coming in the end, it is the little twists and turns during the ride that keeps interest alive. This book managed to do it well enough for me to stay up late one night to finish a particular segment. I cannot say the same about the whole book.

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