I read The Shadow of the Wind a few years ago and it was an astonishingly good book. A mystery story set in early 20th Century Barcelona, it had everything: exquisite writing, wonderful characters and fantastic plot twists.
Here's a little paragraph for you from page 30 of The Angel's Game -
"More than once I too hoped that would happen, but my father always came back and found me alive and kicking, and a bit taller. Mother Nature didn't hold back: she punished me with her extensive range of germs and miseries, but never found a way of successfully finishing the job. Against all prognoses, I survived those first years on a tightrope of a childhood before penicillin. In those days death was not yet anonymous and one could see and smell it everywhere, devouring souls that had not even had time enough to sin."
Read it aloud. It's like poetry, perfectly flowing and rhythmical. And that last sentence ... it's literature as art. I've heard a lot of popular fiction writers criticising literary fiction because of its verbosity, when to me that shows an underlying envy of someone who has mastered their craft. When one puts pen to paper it is with the attempt to write something that comes alive off the page, and Carlos Ruiz Zafon does that with ease.
His stories are just brilliant too. If you haven't read The Shadow of the Wind and you like deep, involving mysteries with insane plot twists all wrapped up in beautiful prose, I suggest you give it a try.
26th January 2012