Goodreads | Waterstones
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, one cold morning in 1945, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Julián Carax.
Captivated by the novel from its very first page, Daniel reads the book in one sitting. But he is not the only one interested in Carax. As he grows up in a Barcelona still suffering the aftershocks of a violent civil war, Daniel is haunted by the story of the author, a man who seems to have disappeared without trace after a duel in Père Lachaise cemetery.
Then one night, in the old streets of the city centre, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from ‘The Shadow of the wind’, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s works in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julián Carax, and to save those he left behind.
I hardly ever read historical fiction – it’s just something I’m never really drawn to. But I’ve wanted to pick this one up for a while ever since knowing that it’s one of BooksNest’s favourite books, and the synopsis sounded so interesting. I read the audiobook of this one, and I must say from the first chapter I knew I’d enjoy it. The writing (which is both a testament to the original author, translator and narrator), is so easy to get into and is also beautifully written.
The beginning of this book was my favourite part, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Sadly, it did dip in the middle for me slightly, but it definitely picked up again towards the end. I just felt that this had the promise of so much intrigue and I felt slightly let down with the level of mystery. The only reason I didn’t give this one 5 stars is because of the slight lack of something. Either a bit more romance, or a little more of a thriller aspect would have been great.
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.
I loved the European settings and the range of characters, who I really liked and found their friendships to be enjoyable to read about. I also really liked the idea of this being a book about books, and the bookshop/library settings were very enjoyable to see.
I will admit that I did guess the mystery element quite early on, so it didn’t quite surprise me when we got to the end of the book. However, I feel like the mystery is only a small part of the book, and it is more of a labyrinthine ramble through Carax’s life leading up until Daniel finding The Shadow of the Wind.
Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.
Although this isn’t something I’d usually pick up, I did enjoy it a lot and I will definitely carry on with the series! I also thought the audiobook was really enjoyable and I’m glad I picked it up as an audio version.
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽