A Shadow in the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a Spanish author, six books to his credit, but in the English-speaking world we had to wait for translations in 2004 and 2005 respectively.
I promised myself I would re-read this marvellous novel and I did. It’s absolutely spell-binding, and such a good meaty read. It has breadth, depth, it has romance, tragedy, horror, mystery, humour; the blurb describes it as a Gothic novel and I suppose it is – fog, crypts, shadows, tortured souls, furious fathers, cruel husbands, pining maidens, ruined abandoned house – what more could anyone want? Most of the women are badly done by, unhappy victims of men, life and Fate. All this and not a fang in sight – who needs the vampire genre?
Briefly, the plot hinges on a dead novelist: Julian Carax. The novel begins with a visit to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books – how mysterious and atmospheric is that? A father takes his ten-year-old son Daniel to a secret labyrinth visited and maintained by Barcelona’s second-hand booksellers. The boy must choose a book to treasure and keep with him all his life. He chooses a novel written by Julián Carax, an author who has disappeared and whose books have been sought out and destroyed by a strange, shadowy figure named after a character from one of Carax’s novels – a character who represents the devil. So we start a story of intrigue, love, hate and obsession.
The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Zafon returns to Barcelona (he lives there) for another book-based tale of mystery, twists and turns in another story based on the theme of books and writers, pregnant with atmosphere and mystery …
I loved this book just as much as I loved Shadow of the Wind ; I’ll never part with either of these books, and know I shall re-read them whenever I need a book that tells a rippingly good story, that keeps me glued to the page and thoroughly entertained. In fact, these two Spanish Gothics constitute my Literary First Aid Kit which I shall apply whenever I suffer from a surfeit of precious, trendy novels. My literary Asprin, if you will. I recommend you add them to your shelves as a precaution.