It is beyond my modest skill as a reader and writer to do justice to The Shadow of the Wind. Like a Russian doll, it was a tragic and beautiful series of stories within stories, though to me a rabbit warren might be a more apt description, as I found that I got lost in the different stories that Ruiz Zafón so deftly weaved together with characters seeming to meld together as I read.
I actually put the book down about halfway through, having got lost in the story and a little bored, but a couple weeks ago I picked it back up and as I got back into it I could barely put it down. Though I'm reading a translation, the prose is simply beautiful. It's rich and textured and as I read I could almost feel the grittiness of the world Ruiz Zafón paints. If you read about Ruiz Zafón, he's most often compared to his countryman Cervantes, which is, of course, no small comparison. But he reminds me more of Gabriel García Márquez with the depth and texture of his writing and the subtle magical realism that always seems to be lurking in the background.
The story itself is both sad and sweet with betrayal, Shakespeare-esqe loves, crumbling families, slow burning vengeance, friendships of a depth I wish I understood, and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. I can't recommend this book highly enough, but it's not for the faint of hear, and you need patience and you need to enjoy stories with both depth and complexity.