I am not entirely sure whether I liked The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I was not as immediately gripped by it as I expected to be, but it was luckily engaging enough to sustain me during a long train ride. It starts off with the narrator as a 10-year-old being taken to the Cemetery of Books by his father, an old building with a labyrinthine network of bookshelves containing vast numbers of books that are otherwise lost to the world. Daniel chooses one book from the shelf and it changes his life.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot because part of the enjoyment of reading it is having no idea where the story will go next. It is a mystery of sorts, although not in the classic Agatha Christie sense. I will say only that as it progressed it felt increasingly creepy and disturbing. The book is extremely atmospheric, as is represented visually on the cover. You feel as if you are inside of a dreamworld with Daniel. Fiction and reality, past and present, start to merge and it is not clear what is real or who is alive and dead. It is tightly woven and the twists and turns that the story takes are clever, leading up to an effective ending.
Overall I am not sure if I enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind, but I feel as if it got under my skin a little bit. Perhaps this is the effect the author was going for. It is an accessible book (the writing, which I read in English translation, is intelligent but not obtuse) and I think most people would get some enjoyment out of it, so if my review sounds at all appealing then I recommend it.