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Jennie Brosnan invites readers to discover Spain’s most prominent modern Author, Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is one of those names that excites you to talk about, rings a bell or just sounds like a foreign footballer. Zafón is, in fact, a Spanish author whose book The Shadow of the Wind is the most successful book to be published in Spain since Don Quixote was introduced in the seventeenth century.

The Shadow of the Wind you raise your eyebrows and hear me say? Yes, that book which is always near the tills in Waterstones with the eye-catching orange cover. It has secured itself the title of ‘my favourite book ever to be written’ for many reasons. It may be 480 pages long but the journey you are taken on through the streets and underworld of 1945 Barcelona and the Cemetery of Lost Books is well-worth the ride.

It is essentially a coming of age novel for those who need something to fill the gap between the likes of Twilight and Harry Potter and the more grown up stories from Stephen King and John Grisham. It follows Daniel, the main character, through childhood and adulthood while he tries to discover the secret of a book in his possession which he found in the Cemetery of Lost Books.

With a strong plot Zafón then proves his talents as he cleverly makes every aspect of the book vital in the outcome of the story. This really is a book that you cannot put down and for three days it became an integral part of my daily routine. It is most definitely a recommended read.

Following The Shadow of the Wind came The Angel’s Game, the fastest selling book of all time in Spain. It follows almost the same format as The Shadow of the Wind but with a twist. Barcelona is still the backdrop for this new tale of woe and the Cemetery of Lost Books still features heavily. It does however offer a different array of menacing characters, both real and imaginary to the protagonist David Martin, a struggling writer in the 1920s.

Of course, not everything is as it seems as reality mixes with the stories David writes in his books. The introduction of the mysterious Andreas Corelli offers the grounds for the plot as he presents David with the opportunity of a lifetime; to write a book that will change hearts and minds. The only letdown of this book is that it is set within the world of The Shadow of the Wind with no real link between the two. Perhaps it is simply a setting in which he is comfortable in writing but it is annoying to one who has worshipped his previous work.

The Prince of Mist is surprisingly Zafón’s first novel which was written in 1992; however it is only in more recent times that it has gained its deserved recognition in the English-speaking literary world. Initially intended as a young adult’s novel, the book explores the world of magic, something which I hear the kids are down with these days.

It is certainly darker than the rest of his work, which could also be a result of its translation from Spanish but there is something unnerving about this book that makes it unsuitable for bed-time reading, if you know what I mean. However, it is significantly shorter than the other two so it is a worthwhile read as an introduction to Zafón’s work.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, despite being a cool name, is in all respects quite an unusual author. It is evident that in the translation process meaning within the text has been lost. I would recommend his works to everyone, especially The Shadow of the Wind because it is addictive to an unhealthy point. People need to get back into the books and discover the pleasure of reading instead of mindless drivel i.e. porn or blowing up stuff on the Xbox. Zófon invites you into a whole new world.

 

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