This is probably my favorite novel of all time. I mean this without a hint of hyperbole. It’s been so long since I’ve contemplated a statement like this that I am nervous about expressing it, but I believe it is true. Don’t even read this review just go out and get this book. Don’t wait for it at the library, go buy it. You’ll want to read it again.
The plot of Shadow of the Wind is difficult to describe in a sentence or two. It is the story of a young man (Daniel Sempere) who comes into possession of a rare book in a mysterious secret library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. After falling in love with the novel, he seeks to learn more about the author (Julian Carax). From there the mystery begins as no one seems to know much of the author and Daniel discovers that someone has been seeking out and destroying all copies of Carax’s works.
The pull quote on the front of the paperback is by Stephen King and reads “One Gorgeous Read.” That sums it up. Not only is it beautifully written, but I do not recall ever having so many different intense emotional reactions to a single novel. It is suspenseful at times, frightening at others. It is hopeful, and utterly heartbreaking. The story celebrates literature and examines the devastation that so often follows infatuation. It tells us so much about relationships – both good and bad – and what we can lose if we’re not careful.
It has been a long time since I have read something that caused me to lose sleep. As I laid last night devouring over half of the books 480 pages I knew I had to go to sleep. But each time I shut the light off, and tried to fall asleep, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I felt like I was one of the characters, desperate to unravel the mystery of who Julian Carax was and who is trying to erase his memory from existence.
Again, although I am cautious to say this, Shadow of the Wind is my favorite novel of all time. I do not ever remember being so tempted to immediately re-read a novel upon finishing the last page, but I am struggling with that now. In all probability I will wait for fear of being disappointed that the experience will be diminished now that I know how it ends. However, I know there is more to experience here. I know I will see and feel things I missed the first time through. And I am sure I will re-read this before too long. For now, I just want to share this incredible work with anyone that will listen.