Genre: Adult Historical Fiction/ Mystery/ Translated Fiction
Publication Date: 2004
Page Count: 487
It's 1945 in Barcelona and the country is healing after a Civil War. Daniel's father owns a bookshop, and on his tenth birthday his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There he is to pick out one book for which he will care for for the rest of his life. Daniel falls in love with his chosen novel, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. When Daniel sets out to read more of the author's works he discovers that he has one of the last remaining copies of Carax's works; a mysterious figure has been acquiring and burning Carax's books for years. Daniel sets out to find out more about Carax and who could be burning his novels.
This book is so rich with plot and atmosphere. The book really contains two plots; Daniel and his discoveries of Carax and his own love for his best friend's sister, and Carax and his romantic relationship with Penelope. Books and words play such a huge role in this novel, that any book lover will love this book. It is easy for a book lover to relate to Daniel and the love and connection he feels for both the book and the author.
The characters in this book are so well developed and so complex. The writing is beautiful; I don't feel like any of the beauty or atmosphere was lost in the translation from Spanish to English (although I can't be sure because I have never read the original.) The characters in both plot-lines are compelling and real, and become more interesting as their lives intersect with the lives of other characters. I was very connected and attached to many of the characters in this novel, and loved the elements of family, friendship, and romantic love.
This novel has many mystery elements to it, and although I did have a hunch about one or two things in the plot, I was surprised by just as many. Everything builds up and then untangles in such a beautiful yet believable way. I read the last half of this novel in one day because I just had to get to the end and see how everything worked out.
I really loved this book and I'm so glad I decided to pick it up off of my shelves on a whim. I would recommend it to those who love books about characters who love books, those that love historical fiction, and those who love mysteries. I will be keeping an eye out for other works by Carlos Ruiz Zafon because his writing and plot totally grabbed me and didn't let go until I had finished the novel.