Whenever I decide that I want to become a writer, I read a book that's so amazing, so wonderfully done, that it quickly diminishes that thought. My writings can never be comparable to the greats, and I believe this Carlos Ruiz Zafon just fell into that category. The Shadow of the Wind immediately lures you in due to its unique and engrossing plot. A bookseller takes his eleven year old son to a building hidden among the debris in post war Barcelona called The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There, in the literary mausoleum, Daniel, the boy, is allowed to choose one book to make his own--one book to give life to again. Following the maze of shelves and dusty books, he chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. Little does he know how much Carax's novel will change is life. How it will lead him to uncover the truth and solve a mystery that has been hidden for thirty years throughout the streets of Barcelona.
Zafon tells the tale through Daniel's eyes. You learn with him, through his investigations and prying. The story takes bold turns and gives shocking revelations that lead up to the "eyes open wide, holding my breath, don't disturb me" finale. You care for Daniel, for his friends, and for Carax. And you learn that everyone is connected in one way or another--for better or for worse.
The book, originally written in Spanish, is a true masterpiece and deserves its renowned recognition. Although the 485 pages may seem daunting, the prose is so beautiful, you don't seem to notice. The plot progresses slowly, but every description and every detour is completely worth it and almost always important. Just keep track of the characters. Admittedly, I had a hard time doing that at some points.
I highly recommend the book for anyone who is interested in tale that weaves mystery, danger, love, and life together brilliantly in a cobweb of disguise. Or, as Daniel puts it towards the middle, "It's a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind."