Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Review of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

This is a book I’ve heard numerous people talk about and recommend (well, three people). I bought my copy in Korea (secondhand, from What the Book?) and got round to reading it a few weeks ago.

It’s about the quest of a young man, Daniel, to find out about the author of his favourite book – Julián Carax and The Shadow of the Wind respectively. As such, it’s a mystery novel, with the emphasis firmly on mystery. That sense of mystery is a key element of the book – each time the protagonists uncover some new piece of information about Carax, his books, family and friends more questions are raised and problems encountered. For much of the novel there’s a suggestion fantasy, with a demonic stalker and strange parallels between Daniel’s own life and the life of the man he’s investigating.

More importantly than this, is the quality and tenor of the writing. I’ve rarely read such an evocative book. The tone struck is one of romantic melancholy – passages read like poems about loss and longing. Daniel, in fact, has two quests: to find out about Carax, and to find his own love. All (with one exception) of the people he meets are lonely individuals trying to make the best of their flawed lives.

The one exception to the general unhappiness is Daniel’s friend, colleague and mentor, Fermin Romero de Torres. This character brings liveliness and humour to the proceedings and helps prevent things becoming too maudlin.

The one flaw this novel might have is its verbosity. This isn’t so much noticable in individual passages or chapters, but much of the story is somewhat repetitive. Daniel and Fermin Romero de Torres interview one character who reveals things about themselves and Carax and it’s all very sad; then they go to another character and the pattern is repeated; and then they do it again, and so on. Also, with all the information presented by these witnesses of Carax’s life, it becomes difficult to keep track of it all.

But these a relatively minor problems with a beautifully written book.

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Categories: Literature, Reviews
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