Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Holly did a great review on this book earlier, and I finally pulled it out of my to-read pile, dusted it off, and breezed through it.

This is part coming-of-age story, part mystery, part magical realism. It starts with Daniel, age 10, who discovers the book The Shadow of the Wind by a mysterious author, Julian Carax, and loves the novel. When he looks for other Carax books, he learns that someone has been collecting all the copies and burning them. He becomes obsessed with finding out everything about Carax. The story is as much about Carax as Daniel, whose lives have odd parallels, and the characters are well-drawn and the suspense masterful. This is a flawed but beautiful book. I'm not sure how much is the author and how much is the translator, but you could easily remove a third of the similes and a quarter of the adjectives with no ill effect, and probably shorten the book by 100 pages. There's also a part near the end of the book that changes points of view for nearly 100 pages (a sort of book-within-a-book), which is jarring. Those pages are compelling, to be sure, and I'm certain that's why the author couldn't part with them, but they took me out of the story that was already in process. I think a more brutal editor would have served this book well. That said, I enjoyed this book. The mystery was satisfying and involving and the characters intriguing. It managed to be witty in places and sometimes bitterly sad. A lovely book, and a fairly quick read for 500 pages.

This is Zafon's first adult novel (his previous novels are young adult, and I don't believe are available in English), and I would certainly read his second.


Holly said...

What did you think of Fermin? Was he as annoying to you or did you enjoy him?

And what about page 312?! Did your jaw drop? I exclaimed out loud when I read it.

I couldn't believe that! At least it was only partially true, I would have disliked the book quite a bit if that page were completely true.

Do I have everyone else intrigued yet? :-)

allisonmariecat said...

I kinda liked Fermin, but I have to admit I skimmed some of his longer discussions :) He did get on my nerves sometimes with all the blah blah blah...get to the point! But mostly, I was okay with him. Daniel needed someone to look out for him, and Fermin was drawn with such a good heart.

Yes! On page 312, I was reading in bed and suddenly went, "What the hell????", startling Matt. Boy that would have made me mad, too.