“According to tradition, the first time someone visits this place, he must choose a book, whichever he wants, and adopt it, making sure that it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive. It’s a very important promise. For life … Today it’s your turn.” – from The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
So. I promised a review of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s book, The Shadow of the Wind. Though I had planned to save the read for those dark, gloomy days of autumn, I made the mistake of peeking at the first page and was hooked. It was the Cemetery of Forgotten Books that had me. Yet by the end of the novel, I simply was not sure how I felt. Zafón is a fine writer – poetic even at times. He’s created a magical tale set in a fitting place and time – Barcelona, 1945. A boy takes to a mysterious novel entitled The Shadow of the Wind, written by Julián Carax. But when he seeks other works of the author he discovers they’ve been destroyed. He soon discovers a disfigured stranger lurking in the shadows is seeking to destroy his copy as well – and the dark secrets linked to it.
Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind has all the elements of a true gothic novel: a palatial home, long abandoned … doomed lovers … murder … madness. Perhaps there lies the issue – he simply tried too hard. It was as if a whole lot of everything was poured in – including a quasi-Freudian relationship – leaving little more than a blur. The result was more melodramatic than literary. I didn’t hate it; but it didn’t maintain it’s hold. The intrigue that so captured my imagination at the onset died somewhere along the way.