The Shadow of the Wind: Book Review & Quotes, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon has that special something that transforms a bestselling title into a modern classic. Read on for our full review, incl. quotes.

The Shadow of the Wind Book Synopsis

The Shadow of the Wind Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets — an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. 

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is not just about books and their power to capture the imagination and inspire people; it is about the power and passion of the people who love books. What more could a booklover want?

A coming of age story.

Deceit, corruption and murder.

Love, in all its forms – hot-blooded, doomed and unrequited.

A thrilling battle for survival.

This Russian doll of novels, a book about books and the stories within them, The Shadow of the Wind has it all.

I roamed through galleries filled with hundreds, thousands of volumes. After a while it occurred to me that between the covers of each of those books lay a boundless universe waiting to be discovered, while beyond those walls, in the outside world, people allowed life to pass by in afternoons of football and radio soaps, content to do little more than gaze at their navels. It might have been that notion, or just chance, or its more flamboyant relative, destiny, but at that precise moment, I knew I had already chosen the book I was going to adopt, or that was going to adopt me.

A modern classic

Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind has that special something that transforms a bestselling title into a modern classic.

He presents the reader with a setting, Barcelona, and eclectic cast of characters that are so lovingly rendered with such attention to detail and spirit that they seem to transcend the page. His prose (and that of English translator Lucia Graves) is often sublime.

The Ateneo was — and remains — one of the many places in Barcelona where the nineteenth century has not yet been served its eviction notice. A grand stone staircase led up from a palatial courtyard to a ghostly network of passageways and reading rooms. There, inventions such as the telephone, the wristwatch, and haste, seemed futuristic anachronisms. The porter, or perhaps it was a statue in uniform, barely noticed my arrival. I glided up to the first floor, blessing the blades of a fan that swirled above the sleepy readers melting like ice cubes over their books.

The only weakness worth noting is a slight lull in atmospheric tension in the middle of the novel where the plot required time to pass for the many story elements to coalesce.

An enchanting novel, The Shadow of the Wind exudes old-world European mystery and intrigue and a literary sensibility. I was swiftly drawn into young hero Daniel’s dangerous quest for the truth and am sure you will be too.

I look forward to reading the next titles in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books‘ collection, The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5  —  Overall 4.75

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Genre: Action-Adventure, Drama, Historical, Literature, Mystery, Romance, Thriller, Translation

If you like the sounds of The Shadow of the Wind, you may also enjoy:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak  |  People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks  |  Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan |  The Binder of Lost Stories by Cristina Caboni

About the Author, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1964-2020) is the author of eight novels. His work has been published in more than forty different languages and honoured with numerous international awards. He divides his time between Barcelona, Spain, and Los Angeles, California. Check out Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s official website.

Other titles by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:

The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon  The Angel's Game  The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon  The Midnight Palace

More The Shadow of the Wind Quotes

“Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.”

On books:

“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens.”

On life:

“I could tell you it’s the heart, but what is really killing him is loneliness. Memories are worse than bullets.”


“. . .sometimes one feels freer speaking to a stranger than to people one knows. Why is that?”
“Probably because a stranger sees us the way we are, not as he wishes to think we are.”

On writing:

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    1. Wow, you lucky thing being able to make that trip. I haven’t had the pleasure, yet… Reading novels this descriptive and immersive is the next best thing.

  1. This is one of my FAVORITE novels ever!! I wrote a review on it recently, if you want you can check it out :)
    The below quote of the book, is somehow quite descriptive of my experience of this book

    “Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.”

  2. Hi Jo,
    Shadow of the Wind is one of my true favorites! Happy to hear you enjoyed it as well. I still want to read Zafon’s other books, too!
    Happy reading~
    Beth :-)

  3. This is one of my favourite books ever! I loved it so much. I have been too afraid to read the other two books just in case they don’t live up to it!

    1. Marg – As much as I cannot wait to read the next title in this collection, I too wonder how the next book can possibly live up to my very high expectations now. A curse of the talented author I suppose! I have not read a David Mitchell title since Cloud Atlas for exactly the same reason, but I am trying to break that behaviour and have his The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet in my TBR pile right now.