YMMV / The Shadow of the Wind

  • Acceptable Targets: Debatable. People from the Spanish region of Extremadura have the national stereotype of being mostly weird hillbillies, and Zafón (who is from Cataluña, a region whose people is stereotyped to have a certain antagonism towards Extremadura) plays it with Fermín's origins, describing his family as such, as well as mentioning his possible native town as Villainmunda, a name which means something like "Dungville". On the other hand, Fermín himself is described as eccentric but very skilled, almost to Magnificent Bastard levels, so it's not easy to see what the author intended to do with him about the matter.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: When everyone claims Antoni Fortuny, Julián's stepfather to be pure evil, several characters point out how strange this is. We later discover that Antoni Fortuny was really just a messed-up guy who realized too late how much he loved and depended on his wife and son. When Julián comes back, he him back in without asking any questions. He also dies holding a photo of Julián and Sophie.
    Barcelo: If everyone insists on a man being a monster either he was a saint or we don't know the whole story.
  • Complete Monster: Francisco Javier Fumero, the corrupt chief of police in Barcelona, relishes the power his position brings him. As a boy, Fumero tortured small animals as an outlet for his sadism, and when he discovered Julian Carax, the one boy to treat him kindly, and Penelope, who Fumero lusted after, were together, he attempted to murder Julian and devoted his life to destroying him and Penelope alike. Fumero sent his men to kill Julian and personally murdered a woman who loved Julian for helping him. In the years that passed, Fumero terrorized the populace of Barcelona as an uniformed thug, torturing those who caught his ire. One luckless man named Fermin was held and beaten before Fumero tortured him with a blowtorch. When the young hero of the novel, Daniel Sempere, closes in on the buried story of Julian Carax, Fumero wastes no time in attempting to kill him and all who know the truth as well. Cruel, sadistic, violent and insatiably power-hungry, Fumero represents how far a once almost pitiable boy can fall.
  • Deader Than Disco: At the time of its release, 2001, The Shadow of the Wind was Zafón's first huge success and his best reviewed work until the moment. It kept the place for seven years, after which the book switched status from "Zafón's best adult novel" to "Zafón's best adult novel until The Angel's Game". Even the latter's first official review actually described it as much better than the former, which only foresaw how the reviews lowered their scores over the years while more novels came out.
    • And that goes without mentioning Marina, which was published two years before The Shadow of the Wind but didn't become fully over until its reedition in 2007. Even thought Marina is technically a young adult novel and The Shadow an adult novel, many people believe it is actually a better novel in some or all its aspects. Zafón himself seems to share this opinion, as he stated that while Marina might not be his best book, it had a special place on his heart that no other book of his had.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Fermín, who eventually got his own featured novel (or at least a novel 70% focused on him) on The Prisoner of Heaven.
  • Tear Jerker: Gosh, where to start?
    • How about when Daniel talks to Isaac, just after his daughter, Nuria, has been murdered?
    • Or Penelope's death?
    • Or Miquel Moliner's entire life?
    • Or Jacinta Coronado's fate?
  • Vanilla Protagonist: The novel's weakest point, according to most opinions, is how passive and socially awkward happens to be the very narrator. Daniel fits on the classic Zafón protagonist of a rather flat, semantically fluid First-Person Smartass, but he notably lacks the wit or guts of characters like Martín (The Angel's Game) or Óscar (Marina), especially next to the wildly popular Fermín.
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