I had heard good reviews about this book on the book forum I frequent. The title intrigued me and the book even more. The book is about a teenage boy who happens come to across a rare book ‘The shadow of the wind’ by an author named Julian Carax, which he finds captivating and tempts him to read more books from the author. This quest of his, harmless initially, turns out nasty and unearths many hidden secrets.
The book is set in early twentieth century in Barcelona. The author weaves in the war incidents into the story and it doesn’t look intentional. The names of the certain characters looked so similar to me, I had to go back a few pages to see who I was reading about.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style. Even though this book is mainly a mystery novel, the narration is different from all murder mysteries I have read. The book is from the point of view of Daniel Sempere, the boy who finds the book. In between the narration changes to differnt point of view of some characters like Nuria and Fermin. I found it hard to keep track of who the narrator was, but it gives a different perspective of certain incidents.
The book is riveting and the story moves fast. The author reveals only part of the story at any time. It could be through Daniel’s findings or through another character’s dialogue- the reader needs to keep track of the previous pieces. The story goes back and forth in time, with repetition of a few incidents, but the author ties the loose ends really well and in the end the book makes a lot of sense. It’s the author’s style of revealing only a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle and the mixed point of view of multiple characters that makes the book so interesting.
There are a couple of characters more than required. Clara and her music teacher could have been done away with; they don’t really contribute much to the story. I found Fermin’s character very interesting and the traditional villain Fumero sent chill down my spine, but just like Daniel, I was dying to know more about Julian Carax and the book did quench my thirst in the end.
There are a few things which seemed out of the place. Daniel’s relationship with Clara seems too sudden. The warmth between Daniel and his dad which was very warm in the last few pages suddenly changes to bitter coldness – no justification given and seems unnatural. Similarly, Daniel’s obsession with Bea and things changing so suddenly was hard to digest. But, the reader doesn’t get too much time to pause and think of the oddities, the story moves too fast.
Some reader find the ending weak, but for me, this was the best ending possible for this book. Even though the book includes a few disturbing scenes, it ends on such a beautiful note that you will have a smile on your face when you finish it. After I read the book completely, I realized that the book couldn’t have had a better title.
Mystery novels usually concentrate only on the story and don’t give much attention to other layers like subtext. This book is an exception. I came across so many beautiful quotes, I was wondering whether I was really reading a mystery book. If you are well fed on Agatha Christie books, then I highly recommend this book.