“A book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us.”
A gothic-esque suspense, “The Shadow of the Wind” chronicles a novel within a novel. An adolescent boy discovers a long abandoned read in a library of sorts known as The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. It is a story of love & loss, of friendship & betrayal, and of corruption & justice.
The novel not only inspires the boy’s love of reading, but also awakens a rite of passage – the intense feelings of a first love. He is however unaware that his treasured find from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is thought to no longer exist. As others become aware of his discovery, the chase begins in an effort to destroy the book.
Unearthing the cryptic significance behind this seemingly bizarre effort, spans into the boy’s adult years. While he has hidden his cherished childhood book, characters from the forgotten novel appear to walk right out of its pages and into his life. As the story line progresses, the main character realizes that he and his loved ones are in grave danger and that in an eerie coincidence, his own life begins to mirror that of the plot in the forgotten, yet highly coveted book.
The author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, reflects the characteristics of the four seasons as a metaphor in transitioning the plot from one major event to the next. What begins as a leisurely summer read, cultivates into a chilling mystery that ultimately resolves in a spirited renewal. Without providing a spoiler, “The Shadow of the Wind” ends in the same manner as it begins. The novel is a mesmerizing tale that takes place over the course of a decade only to come full circle.
The events in “The Shadow of the Wind” unfold within the ruins of Barcelona and Paris and on the heels of World War II. The novel was also originally written in Spanish. Undoubtedly, its English translation preserves the author’s engaging writing style. There are however literary flourishes that render passages as over the top and that border on flat out corny clichés. This would be the one and only negative criticism I have of this novel. Since Spanish is my native language, albeit from the Caribbean which differs from the so called Mother Tongue, I may someday read this novel in its original version. If nothing else, out of curiosity to see if certain nuances were missed or mistranslated into antiquated phrases in the English language.
“The Shadow of the Wind” is available in 41 different languages. This novel will keep you up into the wee hours of the night, I trust in any of its translations. A great read.