“I still remember the day my father took me to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books for the first time. It was the early summer of 1945, … ‘Daniel you mustn’t tell anyone what you’re about to see today’ my father warned.”
That wonderful opening line sets the scene for an eerie and mysterious story waiting to unfold over the next 400 pages. I’ve never forgotten that image.
The tradition is that the first time someone visits the Cemetery of Forgotten Books he must choose a book and adopt it. Daniel chooses ‘Shadow of the Wind’ by Julian Carax, OR the book chooses him. Daniel along with his father, his father’s friend Barcelo and his niece Clara, investigate what happened to the author, only to realise that this may be the last surviving version of ‘Shadow of the Wind’. Their research uncovers the dramatic events that befell Julain Carax and the woman he loved and hoped to marry, Penelope.
Years’ later, one dark drizzly night walking through Barcelona a mysterious rasping voice calls Daniel from the shadows and offers any amount of money for the book. By match-light Daniel sees a burnt, grotesque, and mutilated face telling him he wants the book and to give it up for his sake and the sake of his friend Clara. What does he want to do with it? “Burn them” he whispers.
Needless to say, Daniel keeps the book and searches for the truth behind it and its author, in a hot, misty, atmospheric Barcelona that brings suspense and intrigue. It is a wonderfully written story with subtle complexities and layers, and you can feel the chill down your back as you urge Daniel to continue in his investigations to uncover the good, the bad and the retribution surrounding Carax. The characters offer depth and range, and you’re not quite sure what intentions are genuine and where your sympathies will lie at the end. What is the horror that hangs over Carax?
This is the first of a trilogy along with Angels Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. It is also the best!