Young Daniel Sempere, son of a bookshop owner in the sleepy streets of Barcelona, gets the greatest delight of his life when his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books: a library of lost and long forgotten titles. Each initiate must choose one book to keep and guard for life. He picks 'The Shadow of the Wind' by Julian Carax. Little does he know that there are people who do not want this book to be read and remembered and would go to any means to prevent it. Daniel is embroiled in a series of events which lead to him searching for details about the mysterious author whose life story seems to breathe out from the pages of his book. However there are people who do not want the book to ever be read, a ruthless and corrupt inspector Fumero and the shadowy figure who calls himself Lain Coubert, people who are ready to kill to preserve their secret.
The book is set in Barcelona at a time period immediately after the Spanish Civil War under the Franco dictatorship. Although there are no elements of fear or oppression, nevertheless the eroded sense of justice is conveyed in the brutal and unscrupulous character of Inspector Fomero.
The author chooses to write in the third person from the point of view of the central character Daniel. Thus, the plot is revealed according to Daniel's perception of it and the reader can form an estimation of his character through his outlook on general incidents. The plot is twisted and multi-threaded with numerous dead ends. however for all that it remains tight and gripping to the end. The language (although a translation) is flowery and interspersed with dark sarcasm and decorative wit by the author, presumably private, self deprecating humour.
A friend recommended this book to me and it came with raving reviews. I however was not very satisfied with the plot nor with the construction. It seemed meaningless at many points and the plot was ridiculously simple to guess and fathom. It leads to the conventional 'happy ending' with a schadenfreude typical of best-selling romantic fiction. A disappointing read for those expecting mental stimulation, however it can be used to brighten up a boring flight or train journey.
Book Reviewed By Sayan Mukherjee
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