Finished: Jun. 14, 2011
First Published: 2008, Spanish (2009, English)
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Genre: magical realism, Gothic,
Acquired: Received a review copy from Random House Canada.
Reason for Reading: I had heard great things about Zafon‘s first book and the mysterious plot of this one intrigued me. It has taken me a long time to get around to reading it though as the book was so heavily reviewed at the time of its publication I kind of got tired of hearing about it and lost my desire to read it, however the time was now right for me.
Not having read “The Shadow of the Wind”, I cannot compare the two books. Many others say that the first is much better. This is a very intriguing story; dark, mysterious and Gothic in all the perfect ways: an old creepy house with a tower, a gruesome death from the past, an unrequited love story, a mysterious man in dark, expensive suits and a perpetual atmosphere of gloom. I really enjoyed the story, though I found it slow-going. The pace meandered along and while things became strange and spooky, they never reached intensity for me. It was not a page turner. The magical realism elements added quite an entirely new perspective to a story which could have been written straight without the supernatural involvement for a tale of mystery and madness. I did enjoy the book but I’m afraid I never did really “get” the meaning of the plot, the overall theme. I thought I had it all figured out quite early, that this was the story of a man who had sold his soul to the devil, and part of me still believes that but by the ending I felt that had been disproved and it left me unsatisfied. It could also be the story of a man’s descent into madness but again the ending can disprove that theory too. The ending blew my general grasp of the story out of the water and I finished up with a big “huh?” and a question mark hanging over my head as to what it all meant. But then the whole story is told by an unreliable narrator and the ending leaves one wondering what, if anything, was the reality. A very strange story but I can say I'm glad I read it. I will read the author again; I just won’t expect the ending to answer any questions.