The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Until fairly recently I had never heard of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and suddenly he was all over my blog reader. Two or three book bloggers posted about him at once, and I thought I'd try out the book that people were talking about. One blogger can't stand him and I wish I could remember who it was because now I want to ask why, so if you know, tell me!
I read The Shadow of the Wind, which is the first of three books that center on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books--a giant secret repository for books, guarded by a keeper. Once you select a book from the Cemetery, you become that book's guardian for life.
Daniel is ten years old when his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He chooses The Shadow of the Wind, a novel by an obscure writer named Julian Carax. Daniel learns that his is apparently the last copy in existence, since a mysterious person has been systematically seeking out and burning Carax's books for years. As Daniel grows up and tries to learn more about Carax and his books, he finds a tangle of secrets, lies, and enmity. It's all very Gothic.
I really enjoyed the writing and the complex story. Especially the writing--even though it sometimes got a little labored. As far as the story is concerned, there are only about ten or fifteen people in Barcelona, and they all know each other. The shocking secret was kind of underwhelming, to be honest. There was more sex than I like, and all the women seemed to be either incredibly beautiful or old and hideous (maybe because the narrator was a teenage boy?). And by the end, everyone's lives were so relentlessly, unremittingly tragic that it got a little ridiculous, so it was nice to see a sort of happy ending. OK, all that sounds like I didn't like it, but I did!