Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Shadow Of The Wind (The Cemetry Of Forgotten Books # 1) - Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 528 pages
Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (5 Oct 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0753820250
ISBN-13: 978-0753820254
Source: Review/Purchase/Gift


Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Juli├ín Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets--an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

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Continuing with the venture into my vault of books that need to be reviewed, I bring forth today something very very special and close to my heart. I call this - “the-best-book-that-I-have-ever-read-and-ever-will-read”. It’s a hefty title, I know, but this book exceeds even that title. I’ve read a lot of books in my 21 years (let’s pretend the first 8 of my life were also spent reading the likes of Shakespeare and Dante), and even then, I know for a fact that no book will ever come close to knocking this off my throne of “favourite book ever”. As you fellow book addicts will know, being asked that weighted question of what’s your favourite book, usually results in a lot of head scratching and mind-blankness, because either so many come to mind or neither. Well, to put into context, when I’m asked such a question, this book is always on the tip of my tongue. Best. Book. Ever.

When I started this blog, 3 years ago, the first thing I ever wrote (aside from my cringe worthy introduction) was a minuscule review for this book. But today, I’m back - to do this review justice and explain why even after so many years, this is still my favourite book ever. So, if you will do the honours of following me, I shall lead you through the labyrinth of my review. Brace yourselves. 

I picked this book up on a whim, back in year 9, at the tender age of just 14, on one of my frequent trips to the library. By the end of the first 5 pages, I already knew what love was. I could barely eat, sleep, concentrate in class, I just itched to finish the book off. I remember being in maths, and at the end of class, we had a few minutes to spare. And of course, I whipped out the book from my bag and continued reading it. My math teacher at that time *Mr Wright, if you can see this, this one’s for you!* saw me read the book and was like hey, I’ve read that book! And in the midst of maths, we started discussing the epicness that is this book. By the end of the next day, I had already finished the book, and of course sat there breathing heavily, like some overfed cat, as I contemplated how my life will now go on after reading such amazingness. Even to this day, I’ve re-read the book over 7 or 8 times, through my yearly tradition of reading it once a year. I can never get sick of the story despite knowing every nook and cranny of the book.

I realise I’m writing my whole life story here, but alas, this review is dredging up memories of my past. Okay I promise, I’m done waffling, here comes the review. 

Our main character Daniel, starts us off with this book. After losing his mother and on the verge of forgetting the very details of what his mother looks like, a panicked Daniel is calmed by his very sombre, silent and compassionate father - who takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books; an obscure underground vault where books that haven’t been loved in years are kept, eager to become someone’s new friend. As tradition goes, each person who knows about the cemetery can share the secret with 1 other and as a newcomer, you’re allowed to pick one book from the shelf, to keep as your own, forever. From here, young Daniel picks up “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julian Carax - as soon as he sees it, he feels like this was the book meant for him. He picks up the book, devours it in one go, and after falling in love with the book (something all of us are familiar to) - he goes on the hunt for more of Carax’s works, only to slowly discover that every copy of Carax’s work has been systematically burned and eliminated - all except the copy Daniel holds in his hand. 

Unknowingly, through picking up this one book, Daniel changes the course of his own life and those around him. The author takes us on a journey with Daniel as he grows up and searches for the burning answers within him - with the aid of some absolutely loveable and eccentric characters. 
A book rich in detail, full of humour, romance, thriller and I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but horror too. There were parts of this book that I read, at 4am, and felt shivers up and down my spine and had to put it down to catch my breath. The authors writing it poetic, enticing, gripping and full of prowess, guaranteed to keep you up all night and unable to put it down. YOU. WILL. FALL. IN. LOVE. 

In terms of likeness, think of Zafon’s writing as a mixture of Markus Zusak (author of The Book Thief) meets John Green (author of The Fault In Our Stars). Utterly entrancing, captivating, full of genius plot lines that bind together with well crafted dialogue and narration. There is an almost gothic feel to the story too - which I loved so much. All the characters are standout with such burning personalities and traits, and set against the backdrop of Barcelona, the story has such a beautiful hue to it. 

I should add, this is book 1 in a series, with 2 other books following, the second of which is called “The Angel’s Game” and the final being “The Prisoner Of Heaven” - reviews for which will be up in the next 2/3 weeks. All I can say to wrap this book up, is read it. read it. read it. And when you've surrendered your soul to the book, come back to me so we can mourn this beautiful story together. 

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