Shrouded in fog and poetry, Barcelona struggles through the tumultuous years of the Spanish Revolution and then on into the mid 20th century. The war torn times with their conflicts and wickedness give rise to all manner of villains including one Inspector Fumero who takes it upon himself to seek revenge on the friends who made fun of him in his youth.
The Shadow Of The Wind is as much a telling of Fumero’s story as that of the protagonist, Daniel Sempere. At the age of 10 Daniel’s father takes him to a store called The Cemetery Of Forgotten Books, and there he finds a novel, which captivates him. As Daniel grows he begins to trace the life of the author of the book, (The Shadow Of The Wind by Julián Carax). Daniel learns the tragic events of Julián’s history and begins to unravel the story of what became of him. Along the way he grows up, saves a beggar named Fermín who becomes his friend and eventually his savior. He falls in love and finds that Fumero threatens his love and his life because of his interest in Carax.
Daniel’s love story parallels the tragic love story of Julián Carax so closely that at times it’s hard to tell them apart. Eventually the two men are drawn together and, along with everyone they know and love, into the murderous sites of Fumero who tortures, and murders his way ever closer to the revenge he hopes to exact on the author of the Shadow Of The Wind.
The climactic scenes between Carax and Fumero are complex, well drawn, and almost perfect. The characters are diverse but unforgettable, from the gentle innocence of 17 year olds, Penelope and Beatrix, to the patent, intelligent strength of Nuria Monfort, to the welcome comic relief of Fermín to the romantic, tortured, self-doubting souls of Daniel and Julián. This is a long, slow thoughtful book, thank god. It gives us plenty of time to immerse ourselves in the shadowy world of Barcelona, and it gives the characters time to explore each other’s lives, to live, and to share their love.