Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Shadow of the Wind - #51

Image sourced from here
I've been in a little bit of a reading rut lately. I'm not sure why, I just haven't really had the energy. I feel rather sad that I fell into it while reading this particular book. Luckily, this book threw me a rope or some other sort of laboured metaphor and helped me out of it. But I think unfortunately my opinion of this book suffered for it.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book immensely. Dark, gothic, mystery with hints of sordid pasts tied to civil war, mixed in with books, libraries and bookstores. All with a pinch of Spanish passion and melodrama behind it all.

We meet Daniel at 10 years old living in Barcelona. His Mum is dead and it's just him and his Dad. His Dad owns a bookshop that they live above. One night, Daniel's Dad takes him to an amazing library/depository called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Daniel can choose one book to take with him, as long as he does everything he can to protect the book while it's in his possession. He chooses the book The Shadow of the Wind and this choice embarks Daniel on a lifetime of obsession and discovery about the author and the book.

What I found confusing, that may be too strong a word, disorientating about the book was I kept on reading the dates, but the book itself kept on convincing me we were in a story set about 100 years earlier. 1850 say, instead of 1950. This was probably the gothic aspect to the storytelling honestly. But I was always a little surprised when they mentioned telephones or cars again. This was particularly so when at some stage in the book we visit a convalescent home. I felt I was back in Bedlam during it's not so pleasant heyday, not 1950s Spain. However, the book did make me brush up on my Spanish modern history, trying to work out who was who and who hated who and what not.

It was a great read. I think I missed some things with the 3 weeks it took for me to get through the first third of the book (yes, I took longer to read it and probably didn't pay attention. It's been that kind of month), but once I hit that point, the book took on a momentum of it's own. And I had to wake up and pay attention as I would get left behind, and also because I wanted to be swept along with it. The last third of the book was just constantly punctuated with "Oh my god!" or sharp intakes of breaths. Just when I thought it couldn't top itself, it would surprise me again.

This rating is an honest "it's not you, it's me" one. Maybe one day I will pick it up again and give it all the time, love and attention it so greatly deserves. I will definitely check out it's sequels though.

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