Monday, March 07, 2005

I also read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon this weekend. It is a huge bestseller in Europe and spent almost a year at the top of the bestseller list in Spain (where it originally comes from). I can totally see why. It begins with an interesting premise: the Cemetery of Forgotten Books in Barcelona where, in 1945, 10 year old Daniel is taken by his bookseller father and told he can pick one book to guard and protect for the rest of his life. He picks a book called The Shadow of the Wind by a writer named Julian Carax and soon finds himself shadowed by a sinister figure with a ruined face who calls himself after a character in the book and who has been finding and burning all the books he can find by that author. As Daniel grows up he keeps searching for information about the books and Carax, which eventually leads him to a deserted (possibly haunted) mansion, a sadistic police officer, murder, and eventually the truth about Carax. There are political undercurrents, fallout from the civil war and WWII, which added welcome touches of reality and served to enhance the sense of time and place. I was riveted through the whole thing, barely even leaving the house. It reminded me of The Club Dumas, with the bookstore setting and the plot revolving around a dangerous book. I wish Zafon had spent more time on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, which seems like such a fascinating place, but that's just a minor quibble with an otherwise very entertaining literary thriller.

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