Monday, September 14

The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Worth: Photobucket
506 pgs

Let me just begin by stating that I can understand why so many have enjoyed this book, including a friend of mine. However.....

I didn't. It was just too reminiscent of the Spanish soap operas we are inundated with over here. Much like English ones (Bold & The Beautiful, etc) but the craziness notched up a little. You know those shows; pregnant with the son of your own twin sister who you thought was your mother and long dead but now resurrected with the face of your best friend. Situations that too easily move from exciting to sheer fantastical melodrama.

And don't misunderstand, I enjoy the fantastical. Like Water for Chocolate is a favourite of mine. But I dislike the fantastical for the sake of it, which is why it reminded me of soap operas. I also enjoy gothic literature, and this fell quite short of that offering too. It's Dickens gone muddled.

And something that only a mild-feminist might notice, was the portrayal of women. Yes, it's the 1950's in macho Spain. Yet, there existed strong women even then amazingly enough. In this novel, women are either angels or whores, excessively oppressed or martyrs to love. Not just their portrayal, but the regular talk about them. As a woman, I wouldn't blame you for being offended. I just found it tiresome after 100+ pages, let alone after 300.

I can't deny that it's an interesting story. Although I feel Zafón cheats somewhat with countless mini stories squeezed in. Often stories that stopped bordering on the ridiculous and simply lived in that land. I do realise that a lot of it was humourous, but again, it just became tiresome to me. The ending, well, it was never coming. I don't mean it was simply a long read, but rather that he seemed to want to spell it all out for us to the very last detail. This wasn't satisfying, it was pedantic.

It's fairly well-written, although many phrases and images would sound better in Spanish. And it's often heavy-handed. To call the novel atmospheric is a gross understatement. With an abundance of dark skies, shadows, blood, and 'bruised' clouds, it reads like a stage-designer gone prop happy.

I don't even feel that he gave us a true essence of Barcelona. There's a lot of mentions of ramblas and calles and small alleyways, but that a Spanish city does not make. I can understand that this aspect, if the reader feels Barcelona, is where the charm is for them.

I couldn't engage with the story and I couldn't engage with the young male protagonist at all. But I didn't hate it either. It was just okay for me.

I wouldn't discourage others from trying it. If you enjoy high melodrama for its own sake and a taste of Europe, this could prove highly entertaining. If you prefer your novels with more subtle beauty and literary finesse, then you might want to skip it.


  1. Sorry I have to say Bold and Beautiful is American, definitely not English. I know our English soaps are bad, but the Bold and Beautiful is on another level.

    I am sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it, but if it similar to the show you have then I can't say I am surprised. You can suffer with overload.

  2. This is the first negative review I've seen for this book, so I thought I'd come out and say that I didn't enjoy iy either. In fact I didn't make it to the end. I can't remember what I didn't like about it as I read it so long ago, but it is good to know I am no longer alone.

  3. Interesting (but good) review. I enjoyed this book but I did find it a little confusing and agree with some of the elements you talk about. I also thought it was a little long. I love this cover though!!

  4. Vivienne - I should have said English-speaking. lol

    farmlanebooks - I find that many reviewers dislike giving a negative review, but I can't be anything but honest.

    We're all different - and that's a good thing! :)

  5. I enjoyed you review on this one. O liked this book too, but I did find it tough to pick up at times.

    BTW: I just found your blog; it's great--love the layout.


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