The Shadow of the Wind (by Carlos Ruiz Zafón)
Mystery (2001; Translated from Spanish in 2004)
Suggested by theunbearablelightnessofmyself.
“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leaves a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.”
I had no idea what I was getting into when this book was suggested to me. (Which is something more of y’all should do, it gets me to read stuff outside my preferred genres.) I had never heard this title or author, but from the very beginning I was completely sucked in.
The story begins in Barcelona. It’s the 1920s, after the Spanish Civil War. Daniel Sempere is the son of a local bookshop owner who is well liked in the neighborhood, though his mother is dead and Daniel has begun to forget her. One night, his father takes him to a secret place which he is forbidden from ever telling anyone about, including his best friend Thomas. The place is called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It’s an overwhelmingly large, yet secret, library of books protected by a small number of initiates. When a person is invited into the library, they are allowed to take a single book and must protect it for live.
Daniel happens to find the titular book The Shadow of the Wind, written by one Julián Carax. He reads it that night, becoming completely enraptured with it. From then on, he does everything he can to find out more about the author and attempts to find any other books he wrote. But the deeper he digs, the stranger things get. It seems that somebody is also hunting down Carax’s books, but not to read. Instead, he’s burning them and he won’t stop until he’s got Daniel’s book too.
Along the way, as Daniel begins to learn of Carax’s life, it seems his life is beginning to mirror the dead author’s and the parallels are disturbing. Of course, he also deals with what every boy growing up deals with: falling in love, working for his father, and trying to keep his friendship intact. This book was a beautiful tale I’m obviously going to read again. I only wish I could read Spanish so I could read it in its original language.