The Shadow of the Wind is a sprawling Gothic monster of a novel about - well, I won't say it's about a book called The Shadow of the Wind, because it isn't, really, it's more about the author of that book, Julian Carax. It started off quite promisingly, with a visit to the labyrinthine Cemetery of Lost Books, where Daniel, the protagonist of the novel, finds a book entitled The Shadow of the Wind. Those first few pages said more or less everything that I think about books, as if Ruiz Zafon had read my mind:
"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."
And I was hooked.
But, as it went on, it became less and less about the amazingness of books - which is what I had been expecting from the blurb - and more and more about some very odd and slightly twisted events in Barcelona, 1945. The writing is beautiful, lyrical and lovely, although occasionally the dialogue sounds a little stilted and formal - I don't know if this is a translation issue or whether it's a problem with the original. Translation does have its problems, after all, especially for reviewers. But the novel is slow-paced, and didn't really have enough to hold my interest for 500 pages.
So I was a little disappointed with The Shadow of the Wind. But that's just my opinion; I think that someone who liked, for example, Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White would really enjoy this.