Daniel Sempere is a ten-year-old boy whose father owns an antique bookshop in Spain. His mother died when he was young, and nothing of note had occurred in his life until his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a secret library that contains forgotten or protected stories. He is to select one book, which will be his duty to guard and love for all of his days. He selects a novel by the obscure Julián Carax, a man whose life and death are both cryptic, not knowing that uncloaking these mysteries will endanger and begin his life. Through the streets of Spain amidst civil war and corrupt policemen, on his quest to solve the mysteries of a great novelist, Daniel will meet the oddest and most loyal of friends, fall in love, and finally grow into adulthood. Brilliant and disturbing, revealing the sinister nature of more than one madman, and the kindheartedness of whores and homeless men, The Shadow of the Wind is one of the last great Gothic novels, and a poetic mystery.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote sequels to this book, The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. His other works translated into English are Marina, The Midnight Palace, The Prince of Mist, and The Watcher in the Shadows.
Some of the books mentioned within this one are the works of Alexandre Dumas, particularly Les Miserables, The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Voltaire’s Candide, Pygmalion, a play that Barcelo used to compare himself and Bernarda to, saying he would be Professor Higgins and she Eliza. This play was turned into a wonderful musical called My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison. Another character mentioned was Sancho Panza, from Don Quixote, whom Bernarda thought Barcelo was similar to. Julián Carax was said to have “set off for Paris, Odysseus-fashion” which is a character from the book The Odyssey by Homer. Also mentioned are the authors, Balzac, Zola, Pablo Neruda, and Dickens.
Daniel thinks Fermín is “the wisest and most lucid man in the universe” much like Dorian Gray thought of Lord Henry Watton, in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Daniel’s offer to read to Clara is much like Pip’s duties for Miss Havisham and her daughter in the beginning of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. This novel is similarly filled with mysteries and unraveling backstories of intriguing, unusual characters.
The way that Julián Carax lived in his novels and characters is much like how Voldemort lived in his Horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Also One of Julián’s novels, The Red House, was about “a sinister mansion that was larger inside than out. It slowly changed shape, grew new corridors, galleries, and improbable attics, endless stairs that ended nowhere,” much like some of the stairways and halls at Hogwarts.
When the blind girl Clara touched Daniel’s face for the first time in order to “see” it, “Her fingers smelled of cinnamon.” Later, of the maid in Clara’s home, she bragged that “Bernarda makes the most breathtaking cinnamon sponge cakes.” Antony Fortuny also often invited Sophie to “have a hot chocolate with sponge fingers on Calle Canuda.”
Cinnamon Sponge Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting
- salted butter
- granulated sugar
- all purpose flour
- baking powder
- baking soda
- large eggs
- sour cream
- vanilla extract
- ground cinnamon
- powdered sugar
- cinnamon oil
- For full recipe and instructions, visit https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Shadow-of-the-Wind-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.
- Why did Clara warn, “Never trust anyone, Daniel, especially the people you admire. Those are the ones who will make you suffer the worst blows.” About whom was he speaking, and could she have known how she’d later break his heart?
- For more discussion questions, visit https://owlcation.com/humanities/The-Shadow-of-the-Wind-Book-Discussion-and-Recipe.