Monday, October 17, 2011

Audiobook review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

When I picked up The Shadow of the Wind (2001) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, all I knew was Stephen King called it "one gorgeous read." Stephen and I will have to agree to disagree.

Genre: Historical gothic romance with magical realism
Length: 18h 10m
Audio publisher: Penguin Audiobooks, 2004
Read by: Jonathan Davis
From: Local library

Story: 10-year-old Daniel is taken by his father to see the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, a huge sanctuary of lost and under-read titles. Daniel must choose one book to adopt and make sure it will never disappear. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind. The book ensnares him and sends him on a quest to learn more about the author.

Review: I loved the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I would have liked to spend the whole story there exploring and getting to know its patrons and employees. Unfortunately, the book quickly leaves the Cemetery to join Daniel as he grows up and peruses lead after lead following the author of The Shadow of the Wind.

The characters in this book are marvelous. The blind literature expert. The book buyer who dresses like Lord Byron. The homeless man who may or may not be a spy. However, with all these characters, several plots  in the present and the past, and every cliche ever invented, the book was too much for me. I just couldn't care as much as Daniel about The Shadow of the Wind, its author, or the 20 or so other people whose lives the book ruined.

I did like how women in this book are assessed by how literate they are, instead of by their wealth or beauty (or in addition to their wealth and beauty).

Reading and production: Jonathan Davis does an excellent job. He speaks fluent Spanish, so puts the correct accents in all the right places. It's hard when a book takes place in a non-English speaking country. Should the reader give everyone Spanish accents? Only some people? I'm of the mind that no one should have an accent unless there's some other reason for it. I found it strange that Daniel's dad had such a heavy accent while Daniel had none.

I was distressed by the music that was overlayed on the reading. This happened several times and was always distracting. The music was loud, jarring, and prevented me from hearing what was being read.

Final thoughts: Although I enjoyed the writing and some of the elements of The Shadow of the Wind, the book as a whole didn't work for me. It was too jam-packed and rambling a story for me to relate.

Grade: 3 out of 5

Other bloggers really enjoyed The Shadow of the Wind.
You've Gotta Read This raves about it.
Outlandish Dreaming highly recommends it.
Literate Housewife enjoyed it as well.

Murder, Monsters and Mayhem is sponsored by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves. RIP is run by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.

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