I don't remember being so engrossed into a novel recently the way I was in this book. I started reading it Thursday last week, and now I am finished with it, and it's just Wednesday evening. If there is something I learned about Carlos Ruiz Zafón, then it is that I can and do devour his writing. I remember reading The Shadow of the Wind back in 2007 (before I even started this Book Review series) and felt the same.
Anyway, this book is actually a prequel to The Shadow. It tells the tale of David Martin, a writer, who is approached by a mysterious character he calls The Boss, who gives him a writing assignment. He gets paid 100,000 French francs for it. And sure enough, people around him start dying soon. Unfortunately, as this is a very superbly written thriller, I do not want to expose too much of it here, or else it'll ruin the reading experience. Let me just say that this novel has plenty of twists and turns up to the very end, and it makes good use of Barcelona's Gothic architecture, providing a backdrop to this Gothic novel infused with magic realism.
One of the things I appreciated a lot in this novel was the fact that it is narrated in the first person, using the point of view of David Martin. We all know what that means: oh, I probably shouldn't say it here. But it's oh so juicy! Anyway, take this as proof that it indeed is a good thriller, because I am so thrilled about it.
Despite the very high body count, I liked this novel because it makes very good use of geographical imagery. Just reading this book makes me feel like I personally have strolled along the narrow alleys in Barcelona. I have never been to the city yet, so I really do not know, but Carlos Ruiz Zafón provides a very nice description of the city's layout as it was in the 1920s.
So, I think I will give this book 4 stars. I did enjoy reading it, but I also have to say that it wasn't very profound. I read it, and after reading it, I think reading this novel will only get you entertainment. It will not shatter nor challenge your beliefs. It will not live on in your head, affecting the rest of your life. Instead, all it did was give your brain a set of mental images to savor and enjoy. That's not bad at all, but I want more than brain pictures in a novel for it to get 5 stars. That being said, I whole-heartedly recommend this to anyone wanting an adventure in their heads.
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