Sunday, November 4, 2018

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon ---------------------- 4.5 Stars

I can't remember how The Shadow of the Wind got on my list of books to read, but I'm certainly happy it did! It's only about ten years old, but it's a superb read.

Quick synopsis -it's a book about a book. Cool, right? Even cooler, this book, The Shadow of the Wind, is about a young boy who turns in to a young man but reads a book, in this book, titled The Shadow of the Wind by a different author (one of the most mysterious characters in this book). It then follows him as he works through the remainder of the novel (the novel sometimes going backwards historically) to figure out the mystery of this book and those surrounded by it.

I really fell in love with this novel. It was one of those, that as I was nearing the end, felt regretful for not having taken it in more slowly. I wish I would have taken more care of each page. It's odd how I got to that place. I certainly felt confused for parts of the novel; other parts, a bit bored or under engaged. But, I realized upon finishing, that I was really in the midst of the piece of art that was being finished. It was not a finished piece, and I was only looking at the pieces individually, which made less sense than seeing them (as I did at the end) as a whole.

So, why did I love it so much? Well, there were many aspects. First, the setting -- mid-19th century Barcelona. Both a place and time that I was a bit unfamiliar. By the end, the author had me thinking about planning a trip to Spain to see so many places that he detailed so delicately (and, from what I can tell, accurately). Second, the book was such a lovely mix of different ideas/themes. It was part coming of age novel, part love story, and part mystery. What was cool, was that each of these areas, shined at different parts. As I got to the last 100 pages, all three of these story lines came into focus. And, as I progressed through the last quarter of the book, each of these themes began pulling stronger and stronger as being the predominant idea of the novel. Beautifully, there was no winner.

What I think was most remarkable about this book was that it simply was an incredibly well told, original, and thoughtful story. It really felt like it was part fantasy or magic, yet all of it was based in reality (though fictional). Really, one of the most enjoyable books I've read of late. I highly recommend!

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