“Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”
While The Shadow of the Wind is not the first book to have found its way into my heart, the story and its characters most certainly sculpted a palace in my memory, a labyrinthine palace populated by a wide assemblage of characters.
The Shadow of the Wind takes place in Barcelona, Spain, in the years after the Spanish Civil War, which, as with many civil wars, was especially bloody and brutal. The protagonist, a young boy named Daniel Sempere, assists his father in the family-owned bookstore.
When Daniel is ten years old, his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a secret and magical library where books consigned to oblivion are kept waiting for the day when a reader discovers them. On this occasion, since this is Daniel’s first visit, he is allowed to choose a book.
And it is his particular selection and the mystery surrounding its author, Julian Carax, that begins a quest for Daniel in which he journeys into the shadows of Barcelona in search of answers, a journey in which he meets both friend and foe and learns a great deal about life along the way.
This is a captivating story peppered with mystery and suspense, love and hate, humor and terror with these elements combining to form a true tour de force.
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”
And I would say that The Shadow of the Wind has tremendous spirit and strength.
– Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill