My lovely sister came back from her month-long tour of Central America bringing with her an assortment of gifts. Because she knows me, I received a selection of jewelry (or as I said, “Oooh! Pretty foreign bobbles!”), a skirt/dress that is patiently waiting for April when I can wear it without getting a chill, and – as an afterthought – a book that she picked up and read in Mexico.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a book about books. Well, not quite. It’s a delicious Gothic mystery set in 1950s Barcelona. Here, have a Publisher’s Weekly synopsis:
Ruiz Zafón’s novel, a bestseller in his native Spain, takes the satanic touches from Angel Heart and stirs them into a bookish intrigue à la Foucault’s Pendulum. Daniel Sempere, the son of a widowed bookstore owner, is 10 when he discovers a novel, The Shadow of the Wind, by Julián Carax. The novel is rare, the author obscure, and rumors tell of a horribly disfigured man who has been burning every copy he can find of Carax’s novels.
As he grows up, Daniel’s fascination with the mysterious Carax links him to a blind femme fatale with a “porcelain gaze,” Clara Barceló; another fan, a leftist jack-of-all-trades, Fermín Romero de Torres; his best friend’s sister, the delectable Beatriz Aguilar; and, as he begins investigating the life and death of Carax, a cast of characters with secrets to hide.
Though some reviews have accused Zafon of straining to dramatize his plot, I found his storytelling rich, gorgeous, and enthralling. His plot twists are a fair mix of predictable and surprising, and his description was simply wonderful.
Love from your reviewy friend.