The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and wow. Wow.
I first heard about it earlier this year from my VP at work who was reading The Angel's Game, Zafon's follow-up title. He'd read The Shadow of the Wind and had recommended it so I finally got around to ordering it online just before the holidays. SO GOOD.
I must admit that like The Winter Vault, it took me awhile to get into it but about 150 pages into this 486 page tome, it really picked up and I was hooked from then on. The book has everything: a tragic hero, a murderous villain, a femme fatale, loyalty, forever love, madness and war, all set in Barcelona, one my favourite cities in the world. There were 2 unexpected twists, the first of which was literally a jaw-dropping revelation and I promise you that if you're patient, you won't be disappointed.
One of my favourite phrases is this: "...a story is a letter the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise." This is precisely why in times of great confusion or frustration I turn to writing my thoughts down in an attempt to reach some form of understanding - letters to myself. I've stopped doing that - partly because my life hasn't seen much in the way of major upheavals, but I do feel that I need to get back in touch with myself again. Hence the resolution to blog more - whether I decide to publish them in the end is besides the point.
From the back cover:
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer's son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entilted The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author's other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax's books in existence. Soon Daniel's seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona's darkest secrets - an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.