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Literature / The Shadow of the Wind


The Shadow of the Wind is a 2001 best-selling mystery novel by Spanish author Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Set in Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War, the story follows Daniel, who, as a young boy, discovers a long-forgotten book in a secret library entitled The Shadow of the Wind by Julián Carax. Daniel tries to seek out other books by the author, but can find nothing and no information on Carax himself. Then he hears stories of a strange man calling himself Lain Coubert, the name of the devil in Carax's book, who is seeking out and burning all copies of the mysterious author's novels.

This book contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Miquel Moliner.
  • Animal Motifs: Fumero is associated with insects: cold, calculating, heartless.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Tomás Aguilar devotes his time to building things like the "aerostatic dart." Daniel points this out.
  • Big Eater: Fermín, despite being described as underweight, has an incredible appetite.
  • Book Ends: A Zafón trademark, along with the First-Person Smartass narrative.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Julián and Nuria's friendship has shades of this, particularly their time together in France.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Montblanc Pen Daniel gets as a birthday present on his sixteenth birthday.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Fermín is covered in scars that are revealed to be the result of this.
  • Creepy Child: Inspector Fumero, naturally, who used to capture cats and pigeons and torture them for hours. Julián was a milder version.
  • Death by Childbirth: Julián's lover dies in childbirth.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Julián, after finding out that Penélope died.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Clara, Gustavo Barcelo's blind niece, was the object of Daniel's teenaged affections.
  • Framing Device: A significant part of Julián and Miquel's story is told through Nuria's letter to Daniel (which was sent after she was murdered.)
  • Genius Bruiser, Gentle Giant: Both apply to Tomás Aguilar
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Daniel for Beatriz.
  • Heroic Bastard: Julián Carax was Ricardo Aldaya's son (and therefore Jorge and Penélope's half-brother).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Miquel Moliner sacrifices himself for Julián by pretending to be him and shooting two police officers.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Miquel and Julián seemed to be this, although it's more apparent on Miquel's side.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Rociíto proves to be one at the end of the story.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Tomás delivers a something along this line to Daniel, when he starts seeing his sister.
  • Inadequate Inheritor: Don Ricardo sees Jorge as this.
  • I Owe You My Life: Fermín will do anything he can for Daniel and his father as they have taken him in from the street and gave him a job, making him a respectable citizen again.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: A variant with Julián Carax, who, after his Despair Event Horizon, takes on the name of Laín Coubert, a character he himself created.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Fermín to Bernarda.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Julián gets Penelope pregnant the first time they have sex, same goes for Daniel and Bea.
  • The Lost Lenore: Penélope, for Julián.
  • Love Martyr: Nuria Monfort for Julián Carax, especially after his transformation into Laín Coubert. It doesn't work.
  • Made of Iron: Fermín, who, after being severely beaten by Inspector Fumero, recovers rapidly and immediately starts groping the nurse.
    • Also Julián Carax, who survives having all his skin burnt off.
  • Magical Realism
  • Meaningful Echo: "The day I die, all that was once mine will be yours..." "...except your dreams." Between Julián and Miquel, both as children, and moments before Miquel dies.
    • And again between Daniel and his son, at the end of the book, mirroring the very first chapter.
  • Mind Screw: Thanks to multiple Reveals that leave out some important particular. Zafón does it with every single novel he writes.
  • Mirror Monster: As a child, Julián made up stories that he had a sister who lived in hell and came to visit him through the mirror.
  • Morality Chain: When Julián finds out Penélope died years ago, his world falls apart and he starts burning his own books. Until Daniel appears in his life.
  • Morality Pet: Daniel to Julián who sees himself and another chance at life in him.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Fumero tried to do this to Julián.
  • No Name Given: Fermín Romero de Torres is an alias, of course. We never do find out his real name.
    • A newspaper in the novel gives his name as Antonio José Gutiérrez Alcayete. Given the newspaper gets his informations from Fumero, it could actually be the real one - in fact, the article bills the guy named Alcayete from Cáceres, which is precisely the place Fermín mentions later as his native town.
  • Plot Parallel: There are plenty of parallels between the stories of Julián and Daniel.
  • Posthumous Character: Guess who? Subverted with Julián, who turns out to be still alive. Nuria Monfort is a straighter example. And also Miquel
  • Really Gets Around: Fermín is a mild version of this, he flirts with every woman he sees, but has stayed monogamous since he met Bernarda.
  • The Reveal: the identity of Laìn Coubert is quite shocking, especially after the author spent most of the book trying to make the reader think it was Jorge Aldaya
  • Room Full of Crazy: Julián's childhood room is covered in crosses and Catholic symbols, though it's his father, not him, who did it.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Francisco Javier Fumero used to be one for Penélope Aldaya.
  • Surprise Incest: Julián doesn't know that Penélope is his half-sister.
  • Tragic Monster: Lain Coubert.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Again, Fumero, who always seems to be on the winning side.