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The Shadow of the Wind    by Carlos Ruiz Zafón order for
Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Usually I try to stay away from books on the best seller list. They are too smooth, too predictable. But a bibliophile insisted our book group read The Shadow of the Wind, and I am not sorry. There is some beautiful writing here.

Daniel, a youth who has lost his mother, is taken to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and finds there a work that will become his life's obsession. He must unravel the mystery of why all the books written by the author are being systematically destroyed. Set in Barcelona in 1945, Daniel's adventures have political overtones as we see authorities who run amok with people's lives. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is a labyrinth of lost opportunity and so is the story of the people Daniel hopes to avenge. All is dark, mysterious, forbidding, and the only thing that holds true throughout is love. When Daniel's story starts to parallel that of the book's author, we know that he will have to break the spell, otherwise the labyrinth will continue Daniel's spiral into darkness.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón has peopled his novel with wonderful characters. From the homeless hero Fermín, to self-sacrificing Jacinta and Miquel, to the truly evil Inspector Fumero, all provide the story its vivid immediacy. Yet there are flaws. Because there are several instances of a story within a story, some logic is lost. A character says she will never see Julián again, but in the next section he is right there! The dire threat of disobeying the rules of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books has no consequences when Daniel ignores them. Even though my book group picked up on these and others, most agreed that this was well worth the time. If you like gothic tales, this one is for you.

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