The Shadow of the wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
In the back streets of Barcelona there is “The Cemetery of forgotten Books”. A place for story’s to rest well after they have stopped being printed. In this palace like structure a young boy called Daniel Sempere finds a book called “The Shadow of the Wind” by Julián Carax. Whiles investigating the author the boy finds that this book is the only work still in existence due to a man called Lain Coubert who has put all his efforts in to destroying all of juliáns books. Lain has a connection to these book because the name of the devil in Julián’s books just happens to be ‘Lain Coubert’. From there Daniel continues to try to find out more about the author to very little success.
Right from the start of this novel there are multiple elements of gothic fiction that jump out at you, The first being the use of the super natural. Daniels Father says “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it” He is describing these books with human qualities and suggesting that people, like the author, actually impart parts their of there soul in to these books. This is also foreshadowing to what we learn later on in the Novel, these books are used very much like a horcrux would, however with a more innocent intent. This whole idea of magic and personification suggests a greater power then us, making us feel slightly uneasy and uncomfortable with ourselves because we love to think of our selves as the highest power.
Another feature of gothic fiction exhibited through out is the way that architecture is described, It is often described as palace like with huge archaine architecture, with huge sturdy walls and high peaking ceilings. “The vaulted high ceilings loomed over head with a sense of enormity” When i imagine and visualise how the architecture must have looked i see vast drafty rooms with pointed tops and arched windows, This painting gives me a sense of foreboding, picturing the dark corners of the rooms light only by candle makes me think of what might be lurking just out of my eyes reach, frightening me and again making me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. Almost exactly what this gothic fiction is trying to achieve.
This Novel also explores the idea of romance and hurt, these are also commonly explored in other gothic fiction novels. As Daniel grows up he is burdened with the weight of love, however it is not a conventional love. It is a love, almost an obsession with books. More specifically ‘the shadow in the wind’. This obsession is centred around the authors life and what happened to them, if clues were left behind in their work. However this obsession soon become over worked and Daniel is left questioning what he has been doing. “The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving that person forever.” when expressing his feelings toward a lady he alludes to his life spent searching for the story of Julián and how is knows he no longer lusts after it but feels he is trapped by it.
This novel is relatively interesting however it has its slow bit which can be quite gruelling to read. It shows many conventions of gothic fiction from the super natural to romances and mistrust of human instincts. While i was reading it, it make me consider how my life would be if i was such an inquisitive young boy, like daniel, and how my schooling would be if i enjoyed and believed in books as much as he did. It was really interesting to get to know the Daniel throughout the book too, I defiantly related to his quirks and emotions a lot more then i ever had before to any other character which was a new experience for me and really helped to engage me and keep me reading on.