As with Broken Harbor a couple months ago, I found myself opening up this book while stuck in traffic on the way home, becoming immediately engrossed, and picking it up again as soon as I got home. Unlike Broken Harbor, I then had to go eat dinner or something and I more or less forgot about the book for the next week or two. Or three.
I mean, I read a bit of it here and there, but even though I was totally interested in the story I found it incredibly easy to do other things besides devour it. I think this problem stems primarily from the fact that I barely remember the details of the two previous books, especially The Angel’s Game, which this story heavily references. Any time there was something that I didn’t quite understand, I found myself thinking a moment about whether it was maybe something that I was supposed to know or something that I would find out soon. Some of those things I’m still not sure about.
Another problem I had with this novel was that it didn’t have a really solid plot. The story is from the point of view of our old friend Daniel, but is more or less about Fermín Romero de Torres, a close friend of Daniel and his family. There’s a frame story about Fermín getting married, which leads into Fermín’s backstory when he reveals to Daniel that he’s supposed to be not just dead, but executed. We learn about this terrible prison that Fermín was in with our less-old friend David Martín, and a bit about the prison’s warden that goes unresolved (I smell another book in the series!), and then there’s a strange trip to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, and then it’s over.
And yet I still enjoyed reading this novel! Zafón and his translator turn a fantastic phrase, and I am so intrigued by his post-war Barcelona and Sempere’s bookshop and the whole world that Zafón has built. You can bet I’ll be picking up his next book whenever it comes out, and perhaps it will live up to the high expectations I will no doubt set for it!
Recommendation: Go read The Shadow of the Wind, for sure, and if you like the atmosphere of that book continue on!