Carlos Ruis Zafron (2005) ‘The Shadow of the Wind.’ Phoenix, trans. by Lucian Graves.

Some books make you scowl with displeasure. Some make you taller and better looking. Some make you fall in love. Some make you forget yourself and live only with the characters on the page. This is one of the latter.

It didn’t start off that way. There are a number of narrators, but essentially it is the story of Daniel Sempere’s coming of age. I could just as easily say it is the story of Julian Carex, the author of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’. Both are true in there own way, but Daniel is the detective and Julian is the detected. There are twists and turns and love stories so vivid that history turns to dust in the telling. All of this is played against the backdrop of Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War.

Inspector Fumero is the villain, equally at ease killing for Anarchist groups, Communists, Republicans or War Poets or poets in general. Others lie face down while he climbs the career ladder.

Fermin Romero de Torres is one of Daniel’s guardian angels. He has betrayed his comrades, but has been given another chance by Daniel and his father and is determined not to let it pass, whatever the cost.

Lain Corbett is the devil, a character lifted from Carex’s novel, ‘The Shadow of the Wind,’ but appears in front of Daniel and seems intent on destroying all of the author’s works, even if it means those that own those works, in this case Daniel, perish with the books.

It’s a kaleidoscope of character’s conflicts and back stories which press through into the present. The pace never slackens and some of the images are like the sound of a room full of poems. It’s War and Peace for the adolescent mind like mine.