Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1)

Shadow of the Wind Book Cover
Cover image from The Shadow of the Wind

A Magical Journey – 5 Stars

It has been a few years since a story has captivated me so completely. Several days after finishing this novel, I struggle to find to words to express my feelings. For me, The Shadow of the Wind is a novel that has a mind, emotions and a soul. It was a story within a story in which the reader becomes a participant. Through the eyes of Julian we death and resurrection. Through Daniel we see a parallel with the benefit of foresight. Through the eyes of each reader, we connect the enduring themes to the parallels in our own lives. A truly remarkable experience.


The story unfolds in several layers. At its base, it is a story of young Daniel Sempere and his coming of age. The son of a single father and bookstore owner, Daniel is taught early of a love for the written word. Daniel’s world is changed on the day his father brings him the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. As a repository of rare and books in danger of disappearing forever, Daniel is told to choose a book for which he is to become guardian. Daniel chooses a sparsely published book by the obscure author, Julian Carax. Daniel begins a journey to learn of the book’s origins, the reasons for its rarity and the story behind the enigma that is Julian Carax. Daniel soon finds himself tangled in a web of shared history, revenge, lost love and the pursuit of purpose through art.

My Take

This novel was engaging in most every aspect. The plot was gracefully constructed. The reader was taken on a personal journey in which the protagonist learned about himself through the history of an underappreciated, little know author. The plot was deeply layered and expertly drew parallels in the life of protagonist and life and trials of the mysterious author. On its surface, the mission undertaken by Daniel appears unimportant and unduly dangerous, yet both Daniel and the reader become desperate to understand the mystery and the humanity of Julian.

Despite the attention to plot, the characters do not suffer neglect. Daniel is young, innocent and naïve but he is able to understand the complexities he discovers though the mentorship of his older, streetwise friend, Fermin. Although Fermin occasionally teeters on the edge of stereotype, his carefree and careless shamelessness is a striking contrast to the brooding intensity and youth of Daniel. Daniel and Julian are crafted with such care that a fan of the character novel, will find much to appreciate.

Much of what I enjoyed in this novel is intangible and distinctly emotional. The story was able to elicit the feelings of the awe of youth, the kinetic excitement of young love and the blind intensity of youth. The reader experiences this, not through the manipulation of the their emotions but with an empathy of shared experience.

Final Thoughts

At some time in the future, I will come back to this story and reflect on the novel’s allure. Maybe at that time, I will better be able to explain my thoughts and reactions. Until that time, contemplate the emotions emanating from your own experience and imagine a story that shares those dreams, fear and desires. An amazing novel and the newest addition to my all time Top 10 list.

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested. I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading.

Scale 1 – Lowest 5 – Highest

Sex – 2.5

There are several instance of sexual encounters. The instances are mild and are not descriptive. The content is not graphic.


F-Word – 9 instances Mild Profanity – Approx. 30 Religious Exclamations – 5

Violence – 3

One of the characters has suffered a lifetime of violence. While the descriptions are not graphic, he suffered abuse and other violence through his life. A character is found badly beaten as a result of his sexual orientation. There are several murders discussed in the book as well as knife/gun fight. Violence plays a role in the background but is rarely graphic in nature.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.