Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review Contest: Shadow of the Wind (Reviewed by Ash)

The year is 1945, and the war-torn city of Barcelona is momentarily in the midst of recovery from its war wounds, while a grieving boy, Daniel, whom by coincidence, seeks and finds peace in an unknown book, The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, where he is drawn into a world of dark discovery towards the author’s past and other somewhat ‘abandoned’ works.
As Daniel dwells into perusing the author’s other works, he gradually discovers a seemingly interesting past about the author. Daniel begins to questions himself, who is this mysterious author, and is puzzled why the books are displayed or let alone, hidden in a deserted place of lost books – The Cemetery of Forgotten Books. The long barrage of questions leads Daniel to find out more about the author’s life. As Daniel journeys on a stringent discovery, he is shocked and awkwardly troubled by the author’s disturbing tales of the past – a mysterious individual is trying to destroy the author’s works. For all Daniel knows, he may have the last copy of Carax’s book and is undeniably a target for trouble.
Daniel is somehow curious, yet he is also mislead by the introduction towards the people who have a mysterious interconnection with Carax’s life. Where is this author, Julian Carax, now? . Who was he ? . Why is his name a topic which many of Daniel’s approaches does not intend or uncomfortable and ashamed to discuss about.? Is Carax a cold-blooded murderer of the past ? Did he plagiarise his written stories ? Or is he just a man of an ugly nature that simply deserved despises, mockery, and sheer disdain from others?
The situation ties Daniel in a state of lost, yet longing for a clue to find about this mysterious and ‘unsuccessful’ author, Julian Carax, of whom his works became an affection and solace towards Daniel. Daniel soon makes a fierce attempt to explore, with Fermin Romero De Torres, a ragged beggar who eventually becomes his co- worker at his father’s bookshop of second-hand books. Daniel unknowingly falls in love with Carla Barcelo, a blind yet irresistibly gorgeous daughter of his father’s friend, Don Gustavo Barcelo. Indeed, Carla possesses a surprising interest and knowledge toward’s Julian Carax’s books and informed Daniel about what she knew about this strange novelist whose books were left forsaken.
Daniel’s explicit discovery of unlocking the keys to Carax’s livelihood as a novelist provokes him to meet with more and more uncertain identities of people he never expected and who ‘self-proclaim’ that there once new who Julian Carax was. With different tales told by different beings about Julian Carax, Daniel is thrown into excessive perplexity as he seems to be brainwashed by differently told biographies about the author, Carax. The content involved Julian Carax’s family, a deep connection of Carax with the Aldaya family, one of Barcelona’s riches and well known families to have ever live. The mystery slowly unravels itself as Daniel finds a dark and erotic past of Carax, a repeatedly claimed love affair involving one of the members of the Aldaya family, known as Penelope Aldaya, and unclear chain reactions that contributed to Carax’s fall.
In discovering so, Daniel is brought to, Nuria Monfort, a beautiful book translator which somehow has a strong connection with Carax’s history and appears to be hiding much secrets, which was perceived so untrue that in someway, displayed a rather elusive truth. Daniel is occupied with bizarre situations where it leads him to suspected identifications of people who could just be one of the ‘murderer’ of Carax’s books. For all Daniel knows, the stories he has received or is about to receive could be tall tales, or may indeed not be lies after all.
While his constant exploiting of information regarding the hidden mysteries concerning the author, Carax, Daniel equally faces the growing and bountiful pains of love, friendship and family. He finds new love, in Beatrice Aguilar, the sister of his childhood friend Tomas Aguilar. As much as Daniel is enveloped by the blistering miseries accompanied by occasional blissfulness of falling in love and overcoming the aches of the lost of his mother, and bearing the burden of his father’s silent emotional sufferings, its combination and the quest to search for the missing pieces and sordid yet forgotten truths behind the mysterious vanishing of Carax’s books and his identity, or whether or not Carax was murdered or that one of the identities associated with the life of Carax could have been responsible for Carax’s sudden missing, puts Daniel in a place of constant curiosity, immense confusion, anxiety, and somewhat a vague assurance that he lies in the realms of peril, as he could be the only threat to strange and horrific demolisher of Carax’s works.
The writings of Zafon are an explicit masterpiece. Zafon intends to manifest the feelings of the characters with phrases and sentences told in a beautifully descriptive manner in attempts to draw readers into an utterly deep connection towards the story and the many emotions the characters portrays. Zafon creates a haunting suspense that leaves the readers with no choice but to remain glued on each page.
Graves has produced genuinely perfect translations from the original Spanish version making it an exotic narrative with unforgettable phrases that outshine the character’s indescribable feelings, unspoken emotions, and thoughts following a uniquely refined nerve-jangling plot, injecting the reader with more questions, suspicions, and urge to reach the story’s attention-frozen climax.
Zafon defines the city of Barcelona very well indeed, inflicting its gothic-like layout and memory-locking scenery while its described atmosphere provokes readers to be unavoidably smitten. Zafon arranges his plot of the story that shoots readers to a state of continuous suspicious and sheer hunger for the unanswered questions and twists towards the story. The Shadow of The Wind will naturally make readers be drawn to the provocative plot on every page, shocked and excited at every unexpected clue that leads them fainting for the story’s unpredictable climax.

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