A writer whom no one reads might evoke some sympathy.
But a writer whom no one reads, but whose books cause enough hatred that all existing copies must be burned is a promising and interesting start of a narrative. Combined with diverting characters and their melodramas and an atmosphere that immediately reminds one of ghost stories, Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind is an entertaining read.
The story within the story starts with Daniel Sempere. He visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books and discovers Julian Carax’sThe Shadow of the Wind. Enchanted by Carax’s work, Daniel decides to find his other books and finds out all throughout this mission that the books are as rare and nearly non-existent as Carax himself.
Ruiz Zafon doesn’t hold back in his storytelling. He gives everything in this novel—-humor, suspense, romance, father and son dynamic, sidekicks, closet gays, loyal friends, narrators with unbelievable memories, spies in the bus or street corners, and other such crazy and colorful storylines and characters.
When Ruiz Zafon goes back to the heart of the story, after about 300 pages, I was almost relieved to be finally getting the secret.
And here’s what I realized: I wish there was more to the Byronic hero in the story, to Julian Carax, other than his suffering.
Rooting for the romantic hero who is deceived and hunted is all well, but I think Julian Carax would have been a more interesting antihero if he was given a chance to be successful in Paris before succumbing to the dark side.
I would have wanted to read more about his charisma and sophistication (he is living in Paris!) so that I’ll feel the loss of the person loved by Penelope Andaya, sponsored by Miquel Moliner, protected by Nuria Monfort, and loathed by Fumero.
But Ruiz Zafon only gives us one reason to believe that Daniel Sempere should save Julian Carax: he must write again.
Overall, the mystery that is Julian Carax is what Daniel Sempere needs. Most interesting is the role of Nuria Monfort, who for me, is the real hero in the story.