cover image La Sombra del Viento

La Sombra del Viento

Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Planeta, $0 (575pp) ISBN 978-84-08-03881-8

A Barcelona-born novelist based in Los Angeles, Ruiz Zafon was a finalist for the Spanish Fernando Lara de Novela award with this fifth novel. This thriller follows the mysterious disappearance of an author of melodramas, Juli n Carax, and how his book influences the 10-year-old Daniel Sempere. When Daniel visits a mysterious and secret Library of Forgotten Books in 1940s Barcelona and finds Carax's novel The Shadow of the Wind, he becomes obsessed with Carax. For more than a decade, he follows the writer's ghost through a labyrinth of love, sex, violence, friendship, and betrayal. The narration unfolds through an interesting, yet overextended, interplay of overlapping characters and stories. Carax's and Ruiz Zafon's novels blend throughout the story, sometimes misleading the reader but ending in masterfully executed pages. Ruiz Zafon explores the world of antique books, the city of Barcelona, and the animosity inherited from the Spanish Civil War. Some scenes in this thriller also refer to Borges's exploration of libraries, the labyrinth structure, and Arturo P rez-Reverte's study of hypertextuality in works like El club Dumas (The Dumas Club, Suma de Letras, 2000). Although Riuz Zafon uses some complex metaphors to imitate Carax's melodramatic style, his language is mostly clear and accessible to all readers. Recommended for public libraries and bookstores.Leda Schiavo, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago