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2016 Classics Challenge: The Shadow of the Wind


Amy Davies - June 30th, 2016

The Shadow of the WindThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón is July’s title in our #2016ClassicsChallenge. Originally published in Spanish in 2002 as La Sombra Del Viento, Carlos’s book has since been published around the world and has sold millions of copies. Set in Zafon’s native Barcelona, this book opened the door on The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, around which concept he has since written two other bestselling novels, The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven.

The novel is set in 1945, just after the Spanish Civil War. Daniel Sempere, son of a bookseller, is taken by his father to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a building shrouded in secrecy and accessible only to a select few. The Cemetery exists to protect books that would otherwise be lost or destroyed, to give them a home so that their souls – the accumulated weight of the spirits of their authors and the hopes, dreams and emotions of their readers – might live on, and be augmented by new readers one day. It is a tradition of the place that, upon one’s first visit, he or she may choose any volume from within the vast, labyrinthine building – but with it they take a lifelong charge: to ensure that ‘it will never disappear, that it will always stay alive’. So ten-year-old Daniel strikes out and is found by The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax.

But as the book enters Daniel’s life, he could never have imagined the effect it would have. Curious about the book, Daniel searches for more information on Carax, but he struggles to find a single other copy of his work, or even any references to the author. And when Laín Coubert, the Devil in Daniel’s Shadow, appears in Daniel’s world and starts making enquiries after his copy of the book, everything starts to spin out of control. Will he be able to keep fact and fiction separate as he struggles to make sense of what is happening?

Written firmly into the Gothic and neo-Gothic traditions of both literature and Spain, Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind revels in its unabashed love of books, reading, and literature, and is one of those novels that just won’t let you go, long after you’ve actually finished it.

You can find out more about Zafon’s books, the real places in Barcelona that his novels touch on and even a musical accompaniment to The Shadow of the Wind on his website: http://www.carlosruizzafon.co.uk/

‘If you thought the gothic novel died with the nineteenth century, this will change your mind . . . in Zafon’s hands, every scene seems to come from an early Orson Welles movie . . . one gorgeous read’ Stephen King

‘I remember loving it so much, that I was actually frightened that it would let me down at the end – it didn’t’ Independent on Sunday

The Shadow of the Wind, set in Barcelona and haunted by memories of civil war, is part gothic mystery, part ribald comedy, part political thriller, part Borgesian parable, and all marvellous’ Sunday Times

‘It sucked me in and took my soul . . . a modern classic’ Richard Madeley

The Shadow of the Wind is a triumph of the storyteller’s art. I couldn’t put it down. Enchanting, hilarious and heartbreaking, this book will change your life. An instant classic’ Daily Telegraph

We have three copies of The Shadow of the Wind to give away – to enter:

For more information on the 2016 Classics Challenge, head over to the Pretty Books blog and follow @theprettybooks on Twitter.

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