The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Among the streets and alleys of Barcelona lies a mysterious, maze-like library known as the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Traditionally, a visitor chooses one book as his or her own to protect. When he is first brought to the Cemetery at the age of ten by his father, a bookseller, Daniel Sempere chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax as his own. Daniel, enthralled by the book, soon discovers that his copy is the last in existence; a mysterious figure has been systematically burning all of Carax’s works, a figure who appears to be Carax’s fictional devil come to life.

The Shadow of the Wind is as much about Daniel’s coming of age as it is about the mystery of Julián Carax and his books. As Daniel digs deeper into the life of the enigmatic Carax, the more his own story comes to mirror that of the author’s. Like Carax, Daniel finds himself in a forbidden relationship with his best friend’s sister, as well in the crosshairs of the sadistic Inspector Fumero.

The novel begins somewhat slowly, largely dealing with Daniel’s loves and relationships. Later, as his story intersects more with Carax’s, Daniel enters a darker Barcelona of dank alleys, crumbling mansions, and a dank sanatorium. The lives Zafón’s characters intersect in an almost Dickensian manner, with people from Daniel’s present serving as links to Carax’s past.

It is through these intersecting characters that Julián Carax’s story is told. Both past and present stories are excellent, although the often large chunks of flashback sometimes disrupt present events. The Shadow of the Wind is simply a great read, and is definitely worth the hype.