YMMV / The Shadow of the Wind

  • Acceptable Targets: Debatable in Fermín's case. People from the Spanish region of Extremadura have the national stereotype of being Spain's answer to the Hillbilly Horrors trope, and Zafón (who is from Catalonia, a region that is popularly portrayed as having a certain antagonism towards Extremadura) plays it with Fermín's origins, describing his family in Extremadura as such and mentioning his possible native town as Villainmunda, a name that means something like "Dungville". On the other hand, Fermín himself is described as eccentric but very skilled in all sorts of fields, sometimes almost to Magnificent Bastard levels, so it's hard to see him as a negative stereotype of Extremadura or a stereotype at all.
  • 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 takes him back in without asking any questions. He also dies holding a photo of Julián and Sophie.
    Barceló: 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.
  • 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 narrator. Daniel fits on the classic Zafón protagonist of a semantically fluid yet rather dull First-Person Smartass, but he notably lacks the wit or guts of characters like Martín (The Angel's Game) or Óscar (Marina), which only worsens next to the wildly popular Fermín.