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The Shadow of the Wind | [Carlos Ruiz Zafon]

The Shadow of the Wind

Barcelona, 1945: Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his 11th birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.
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Publisher's Summary

Barcelona, 1945: Just after the war, a great world city lies in shadow, nursing its wounds, and a boy named Daniel awakes on his 11th birthday to find that he can no longer remember his mother's face. To console his only child, Daniel's widowed father, an antiquarian book dealer, initiates him into the secret of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a library tended by Barcelona's guild of rare-book dealers as a repository for books forgotten by the world, waiting for someone who will care about them again.

Daniel's father coaxes him to choose a volume from the spiraling labyrinth of shelves, one that, it is said, will have a special meaning for him. And Daniel so loves the novel he selects, The Shadow of the Wind by one Julian Carax, that he sets out to find the rest of Carax's work. To his shock, he discovers that someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book this author has written. In fact, he may have the last one in existence. Before Daniel knows it, his seemingly innocent quest has opened a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets, an epic story of murder, magic, madness, and doomed love.

An uncannily absorbing historical mystery, a heart-piercing romance, and a moving homage to the mystical power of books, The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storyteller's art.

Translated by Lucia Graves.

©2001 Carlos Ruiz Zafon; Translation ©2004 Lucia Graves; (P)2004 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"If you thought the true gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind. Shadow is the real deal, a novel full of cheesy splendor and creaking trapdoors, a novel where even the subplots have subplots; this is one gorgeous read." (Stephen King)
"Superbly entertaining." (Washington Post Book World)
"Carlos Ruiz Zafon has written a masterful novel of hope, mystery, and love, made more superb on audio." (AudioFile)
"Part detective story, part boy's adventure, part romance, fantasy, and gothic horror, the intricate plot is urged on by extravagant foreshadowing and nail-nibbling tension. This is rich, lavish storytelling." (Booklist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1928 )
5 star
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4 star
 (529)
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 (337)
2 star
 (147)
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 (100)
Overall
4.1 (964 )
5 star
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 (161)
2 star
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1 star
 (39)
Story
4.2 (949 )
5 star
 (496)
4 star
 (259)
3 star
 (122)
2 star
 (42)
1 star
 (30)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Lee 03-08-08
    Lee 03-08-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    13
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    0
    0
    Overall
    "good, atmospheric but long"

    This is a good book that could have been a better, but I still enjoyed listening to it on a long trip. Very evocative of Spain after the war, and I enjoyed the reader. On the downside, it was very long and sometimes repetitive (perhaps because it's meant for young adults?). And the ending was a disappointment, not really any resolution, from my perspective. still, worth a listen when you want a quiet book to make the time pass.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phillip Knoxville, TN, United States 10-30-07
    Phillip Knoxville, TN, United States 10-30-07 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Florid to the point of distraction"

    An interesting plot with some unanticipated turns, it sounds when read, florid and pompous. The reading itself is really quite good. The accent is charming, and the diction and pacing make for a very understandable listen. I suspect the words on the page read well too as a beach paperback, but the combination of the accent and the overwrought/overworked descriptions was simply tiresome. I made it through 2/3 of the story before I just had to move on to something else.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Mount Vernon, NY, United States 09-15-07
    Keith Mount Vernon, NY, United States 09-15-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    1
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    0
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    Overall
    "Could not endure..."

    Holy cow. This book seemed interminable from the very first chapter. From the soap-opera music playing in the background the first 15 minutes or so, and the over-wrought, melodramatic prose... I just could not endure this book. First time I ever simply just gave up on a book. Could not take another minute.

    The story begins with a 10-year old boy who recently lost his mother. His father lets him in on a "big secret" which, in highly over-dramatized prose, turns out to be nothing more than a book store selling out-of-print used books. Every detail is written as though it were some grand denouement, yet is in most cases mundane and unimportant. The author seems to be on a tear to find the most round-about way to describe the most uninteresting thing. Booorrring. Don't waste your time on this one, honestly.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey M. Wagner Corvallis Oregon 09-12-07
    Jeffrey M. Wagner Corvallis Oregon 09-12-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    84
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    "Don't bother"

    This is only one of two audio books I have begun and not finished. Out of over a hundred. The story just didn't do a thing for me. It is neither a historical novel or a fantasy. I see in other reviews that some people really liked it. But I just didn't get it. It was long, drawn out and even after half way thru the book I really did not care how it ended so I stopped listening to it.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Joe Richmond VA 09-14-05
    Virginia Joe Richmond VA 09-14-05 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    196
    18
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    9
    Overall
    "Awful"

    This may have made a good short story but went on and on about every little thing. I truly do not understand all the good reviews. The author would present some interesting concepts like the secret library; the writer who is a man of mystery; a little coming of age side story, but the interest wanes in all the unnecessary detail. I could not even finish the first part.

    3 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 02-20-10
    Kelly FORT WORTH, TX, United States 02-20-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    31
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    74
    40
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    1
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    Overall
    "Tired head!!"

    This book was recommended by a friend, but after making myself listen to almost 6 hours i finally called it quits because I had tried head from trying to concentrate. Narration is good and the beginning of the book was really interesting but it got very convaluted.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 08-29-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "So Sad"

    Very light. So light it's see through.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janis Storrs, CT, USA 08-27-06
    Janis Storrs, CT, USA 08-27-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Way too much wind"

    Despite this book's popularity, I found it hard to get into and not much more rewarding as it went along: too many characters were introduced, each telling the same shadowy story again and again, with little point, little individualized character development, weak attempts at humor, little suspense, and no reward for patient efforts at extracting something--anything--of significance from the whole endeavor. The reader tried valiantly to inject some life into the text, but, to my mind, his exaggerated spookiness and odd use of accents only made the whole thing more tiresome.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    barefoot rabbit 01-22-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
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    53
    21
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    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "A tragic waste of time"

    I kept thinking this story would get better--after all, the basic plot had so much potential, didn't it? A secret library! Well, no real spoilers, but the book--which ended up taking me FOREVER to get through (I almost quit so so many times but kept thinking maybe it would take a turn)--was a whole lot of nothing.

    No real story at all. Just a couple interesting characters--and no real story. You keep thinking something interesting will happen--some twist, some connection between all the random pieces--but there is no real mystery, no real wonder, no real anything.

    There are enough negative reviews on Amazon that I should've listened to, but I ended up wasting a great deal of time trying to give this story a chance. What a shame.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melody Campbell, CA, USA 09-24-07
    Melody Campbell, CA, USA 09-24-07 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    114
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    115
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Half way through and not sure I'll ever finish it"

    I liked the idea of the book and at times it's interesting. I tend to get lost in excessive, unimportant details and ramblings about vague side-stories that go on and on and on...then I've lost interest and leave it for several days before trying to get into it again. It's probably the worst audio book I've ever listened to in that it just isn't holding my attention. I would not recommend it at all.

    1 of 6 people found this review helpful
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