Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s 2001 caper The Shadow of the Wind is a story of forbidden love and exile stretching between the Spanish Civil War to 1960’s Barcelona. Utilizing a pastiche of styles and techniques, Zafón demonstrates an immense respect for the stately opulence of Gothic Victorianism mixed with the elaborately plotted whodunnits and mysteries of the hard-case crime files from the 1950’s.
The story is of young Daniel Sempere the son of a local bookseller who happens to come into possession of a novel by increasingly obscure Spanish author Julián Carax.
Falling in love with the book immediately, young Daniel quickly searches out more from the enigmatically absent author only to discover that his books are being systematically removed and destroyed from bookstores and libraries.
What follows is a torrent of murder, mystery, love, lust, and the excavation of a past that has struggled to be buried for decades–all of which set beneath the glow of a Barcelonian winter.
I’m in awe of Zafón’s prose. The intricacy and originality of the story is astounding, and his style is a beautiful combination of the mathematical-calculatory mystery of Borges mixed with the playful magic of García Márquez.
Linguistically speaking, Zafón is the perfect amalgam of complex prosaic Victorianism with a dash of the contemporary thriller.
The Shadow of the Wind is a masterpiece. Go out and get it now. It won’t disappoint.
Stars = 5/5