“The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Zafon’s Shadow of the Wind, in hardcover, has been sitting on my shelf since I borrowed it from my mother-in-law several years ago. I suggested it for my book group, thinking that would force me to read it; I’m very persuaded by deadlines. But since I lost my reading mojo in the last few months, I didn’t finish in time for our meeting. We still had a good discussion, and overall enjoyed the book. And, I did finish it, finally.

A young boy named Daniel comes across a rare book in post-WWII Barcelona. He loves the book, and when he tries to find out more about the author, Julian Carax, discovers a mystery that will engage him for the next ten years. This book is a heady mix of horror, intrigue, romance, coming-of-age, and bibliophilia. I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it, perhaps because of the role of women in the book. They served mostly as objects of desire to motivate the men in the story.

That afternoon of mist and drizzle, Clara Barcelo stole my heart, my breath, and my sleep. In the haunted shade of the Ateneo, her hands wrote a curse on my skin that wasn’t to be broken for years. While I stared, enraptured, she explained how she, too, had stumbled on the work of Julian Carax by chance in a village in Provence.

This book reminded me strongly of The Thirteenth Tale, also a mystery from the past that encompasses romance, murder, and love of books. That, though, was told from a woman’s point of view, and seemed to me a “girly” counterpart to this, which I felt was a “boy” book by Zafon.

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