The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The day that Daniel’s father took him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books changed the course of history for more than one person. That was the day that Daniel Sempere lay to claim the last unburnt copy of The Shadow of the Wind written by an obscure author with the name of Julian Carax. 

Set in Barcelona immediately after the Francoist dictatorship, this novel of intrigue and suspense will carry you away with its precise descriptions and well-developed characters as Daniel sets out to unravel the mystery of Julian Carax, formerly from Spain who published poorly sold books in Spanish from Paris.

Along with eccentric book lover Gustavo Barcelo and beggar turned secret agent Fermin Romero de Torres, Daniel searches for clues and stumbles upon intersecting histories that include Don Federico the watchmaker, who every now and then dons a diva costume and performs at an underground variety show in drag, Clara, the lovely, blind daughter of Gustavo who steals Daniel’s heart and the notorious giggling Inspector Fumero. 

The Shadow of the Wind doesn’t hold back on romance either. From the tragic story of Daniel’s widowed father to the heedless entanglements of Daniel’s own love life, there are overlapping stories of unrequited love, forbidden love, and eternal love with catastrophic results. 

I must warn you that the complexity of the story and the formal Spanish tone and vocabulary choices mean this isn’t a light beach read even in translation. You may need to take a break every now and then to wrap your head around the mystery or ponder the clues. However, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (not the one by Julian Carax) was one of the best romantic mystery novels that I’ve read in quite some time. 

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