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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

One of the most intriguing books I have ever come across, one that starts talking to you from the very first line, that pulls you into another world, a world that is tinted in sepia and browns......that is where this book takes you - into The Shadow of The Wind, by Spanish novelist Carlos Ruiz Zafon (in the pic).

Originally published in the year 2001 in Spanish, the book became an instant bestseller and classic, and has been translated into many languages. The Shadow Of The Wind was translated into English in the year 2004 and sold over a million copies in the UK.

The novel, that is set in post-Civil War Barcelona, opens with a young boy Daniel Sempere being taken by his father to the secret cemetery of forgotten books. The place is a huge library that houses old, forgotten and discarded titles and is lovingly preserved by Daniel's father and a few of his colleagues. Daniel is allowed by his father to 'adopt' one book from that huge library, on the condition that he will forever protect the book. The book chosen by Daniel is called 'The Shadow of The Wind' by a writer called Julian Carax. That night Daniel opens the first page of the book, and before long, he is completely engrossed in the pages. The story and the character stay with him and the writer makes such an impact that he tries to look for the other books by this author, but mysteriously, he can find no other book by this author. At the same time he comes to know that a character called Lain Coubert, named after a character from Carax's last novel and the character of the Devil himself, has been seeking out Carax's novels and burning them almost religiously. Without knowing it yet, Daniel soon finds himself on a deadly trail, a trail to find out about the mysterious author, a trail that will soon turn into a battle to save those left behind by Julian Carax.

Apart from the characters that are bound to stay with you for a long long time, the setting is in that era that is charm-personified. Think of places with arches, wrought-iron lampshades, cobblestone paths, foggy nights, a mysterious figure standing in the shadows and the mist, boarding houses filled with boarders peeping out from doorways in the dead of the night, an old old bookstore, an old mansion with sprawling lawns and fountains that is now deserted for fifteen years - this is the world you will enter the moment you pick the book in your hand. The cover is sepia and brown, with an old lampshade in a cold misty night, and a mysterious figure in a hat and raincoat walking on the cobbled street. The pages of the novel, keeping the setting in mind, have a yellowish tint.

The language immediately connects with you, an easy and natural flow, interspersed with a sense of humour. The suspense and chase is constant, found in each page and setting. This is one of those books that you will finish in the fastest time, there is no way you can put the book down and leave it for a while - if you happen to have any work in between, rest assured, you will come back to it immediately, the pull of the book is so strong.

Publication: Hachette India
Paperback India Price: INR 350.00
Pages: 505
Comes with a reading guide