Umineko Reading List: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the WindThe Shadow of the Wind is many things. Through its twists and turns, it tells a story both mysterious and romantic, chilling and comedic. If you loved Umineko, and seek more stories in the same vein, The Shadow of the Wind is a fine place to start.

One night, Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, tucked away in the alleys of Fascist-dominated Spain. Daniel may choose any single book from it’s endless bookcases, on the condition that he protect it with his life. The Shadow of the Wind, last remaining copy of a novel by obscure author Julian Carax, catches his attention. Daniel’s quest to protect the book is complicated by the fact that a man has been tracking down copies of Julian Carax’s books, and burning every single one. Even odder, this mysterious figure claims the name of “Lain Couthbert,” The Shadow of the Wind‘s arch-villain.

The book focuses on two stories, one in the past and one in the present. In the past, we follow as the tragic tale of Julian Carax is slowly unraveled. In the present, Daniel deals with the repercussions of that unraveling, as well as his own tale of budding love and misplaced passion.

The Shadow of the Wind is a gloriously overstuffed story. It seems there’s a Gothic back story behind everyone of it’s characters, even if they’ll be exiting the story’s stage in a few pages. Some of them are revisited, luckily, in the book’s two sequels The Angel’s Game and The Prisoner of Heaven. If there’s any real testament to Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s skill as a writer, it’s this: that he can stuff it with so much drama without the reader rolling their eyes at how overwrought it is. Instead of wooden set pieces, the characters feel like actual people, who want to laugh and love just the same.

Even though the book drips with atmosphere from the beginning, it can take awhile for the real narrative to build steam. The connection between Daniel and Julian Carax’s stories can seem a bit forced until half-way through the book. Sometimes the book’s most brilliant parts are also the shortest. Still, it’s a gripping book, and I recommend it highly.

 

 

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4 Responses to Umineko Reading List: The Shadow of the Wind

  1. perceez says:

    I’ve read Tokyo Zodiac Murders when you posted about it, and it was a blast. I really don’t regret it.
    Although I don’t comment, I read your blog. I’ll trust you on this one too :)
    Are you aware of the Umineko “PS3fication” patch that’s under development? By applying as an alpha tester on the team’s forum you can get an access to the episode 1, and it’s really awesome

    Like

    • tim_p says:

      Ah, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      I’m one of those crazy types who prefer the original art : P I tried using the existing UmiTweak patch on my last re-read, but I gave up pretty quickly. I probably should give it a more serious try, though…

      Like

      • perceez says:

        I finished The Shadow of the Wind 3 weeks ago now. Again, it was a very nice read. I really enjoyed the writing style. The whole story was truly captivating, I really liked the dark atmosphere of the city. There were really powerful passages, off the top of my head: every passage with clara (in my head she has the face of Claire from Umineko, don’t know why), the childhood of Carax, the “nursing home” with the crazy old people… the context of these parts isn’t particularly amazing, but the author still managed to make them so thanks to his style.

        Are the two sequels worth reading? I noticed they seem to have a lower ranking on buyers review from amazon & stuff

        Thanks again for the discovery :)

        Like

      • tim_p says:

        Clara’s character was used in an interesting way. Her whole situation with Daniel is quite evocative, and then she’s just dropped from the plot, almost it was a fake-out plot development. I guess it’s important for showing that Daniel’s drunken his bitter dregs, and now he’s not just a boy anymore?

        I haven’t read them yet, but the general consensus is that the sequels are good, but not as good as the original. On the other hand, one of them focuses on Fermin, who I thought was a really neat character.

        You’re welcome! Believe me, digging around for interesting books is a rather pleasant labor :)

        Like

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