The Shadow of the Wind is a complex, beautifully written story that weaves an intricate narrative of different lives and generations in post-war Spain.
Young Daniel Sempere is taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books by his father, a second hand book dealer. He is allowed to choose one book which he must keep and treasure always, as he will go into the second hand book business like his father. Daniel picks a book by a likewise forgotten author, Julian Carrax. Hidden here for safety from a mysterious character hell-bent on finding and destroying all of Carrax’s works, Daniel goes on a quest to discover more about the mysterious author, whom he finds he has so much in common with. The deeper Daniel digs, the more dangerous his quest to find out what really happened to Carrax becomes.
I really loved reading this story of love and misery in a post-war Europe. I must admit, I know very little about Spanish history or the Spanish civil war, but it was an interesting read nonetheless. Zafón has a unique way of writing that is both intricate and circular, often picking up threads later in the story that he drops right at the beginning. He also plays on the notion of history repeating itself and the danger of revenge and desire. His attention to detail brings the streets of Barcelona, and the characters that inhabit them, to life.
I paired this with the Stellenzicht Golden Triangle Shiraz, a wine imbued with rich flavours and deep philosophy that perfectly complements this complex novel.