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Shadow of the Wind Discussion Questions, ch 1-28

Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Join our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge as we travel to Spain and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Discuss this magical, mysterious, magical and gothic bestseller.

Welcome book lovers to our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge group read of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. This is my all-time favorite book and I’m so excited that the reading challenge participants wanted to read this for March. Want to join us? Read chapters 1-28 and then come back and answer the questions in the comments or in our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge Goodreads group.

About Shadow of the Wind

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

WARNING: THIS DISCUSSION WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS. If you haven’t read chapters 1 through 28 and don’t want spoilers, please come back to discuss when you are done with those sections! Just like our Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge, our readalong is no pressure. Read at your pace and come by and answer the discussion questions at your leisure. We want to hear from you!

Ok you’ve been warned, here we go…

Story Recap

We meet Daniel Sempere, the son of a modest bookstore owner. Daniel’s father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books to choose a book that he swears to protect. Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He’s hooked by the book and goes on a quest to find Carax’s other novels only to find that someone is stealing and burning all of Carax’s novels. This part covers Daniel’s life from a young boy though his teens. He’s introduced to various mysterious characters who seem to have something to hide, we aren’t quite sure who’s telling him the truth and who’s sending him on a wild goose chase. It wouldn’t be about a teenage boy if there wasn’t come love interest. Daniel is capitvated by angelic and enigmatic Carla and confused about his feelings towards his best friend’s sister Bea, who terrifies him but he kinda likes her.

Discussion Questions

1. Does Daniel choose The Shadow of the Wind or does the book choose him? 

2. One of my favorite quotes is “…few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany is throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later – no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget – we will return.” What was the first book that left it’s deep mark on you? What books have you re-read? 

3. Why do you think Daniel is so determined to find out what happened to enigmatic author Julian Carax? What motivates and drives him to continue when he encounters so many stumbling blocks?

4. What does Fermin Romero de Torres add or take away to the story and Daniel’s quest for the truth? Is he an asset or complicating Daniel’s mission?

5. How do you think Daniel and Julian are similar? How are they different? 

6. The theme of magical realism comes to life with the Lain Coubert character. Is he real or a figment of Daniel’s imagination? Is he the Devil? Does that make Daniel the Christ-like figure?

7. Good vs. evil is also a prominent theme. Fermin vs. Fumero. Daniel vs. Lain. Will good prevail when the “evil” characters are so strong and intimidating? What other symbolism have you found in this book?

8. With the exception of Bernarda, most of the women Daniel encounters are mysterious and not what they seem. Clara, Bea, Nuria, Daniel’s mother, Penelope. How do they impact his quest and the man he’s turning into? 

9. Who are your favorite characters? 

8. What are your favorite quotes? 

9. Another of my favorite quotes is “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” What did The Shadow of the Wind show Daniel about himself? What have you learned about yourself from reading this book? What books have you read that showed you something about yourself? 

10. What have you learned about Spain in their post-Civil War? Barcelona? Ever been to Spain? Does this book make you want to visit? 

11. This book is originally written in Spanish and translated into English by Lucia Graves. What did you think of the translation? Did she do the book justice? What other translated books have you read? 

12. What other questions would you like to discuss and ask of other participants? Please share them so we can continue the discussion!

I’ve thrown a lot of questions at you. Answer all or some or ask what you’d like to know so we can enjoy discussing this fantastic book! I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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10 Comments

  1. The shadow of the wind for me was captivating and breathtaking in the way the story plots and characters played out. I did relate to quote ” there are worst prisons than words ” recognizing ones dark thought can bring us into our own prison The seven deadly sins plated a vital role in emotions. Loved it.

  2. I feel like the book chose me…I think I tried to read it several years ago but my book group has a few women whose opinions I value and they said this was their favorite of all time…so I gave it another go and am so glad I did..so I think perhaps the book chose Daniel and for the reason that he and Julian share so many similarities…The characters and the mystery are so intricate that even a non mystery fan like me can get behind the complexity of the story. The writing is so lyrical in the English translation that I wonder how it reads by Spanish readers…

  3. I am just starting chapter 15. #1. The book chose him. #2. I read a lot of classics like Little Women, but the first book I could relate to was ‘Are you there God? It’s me Margaret.’

    I just finished the section on Clara and now the book seems to be shifting in a different direction. Wondering what is the significance of Clara.

  4. A little behind on the read-a-long but I can answer a few questions.

    Personally, I think Daniel choose the book. Not the other way around. Sometimes a book just peaks your curiousity and you just have to have it. Also, I believe Daniel needed a purpose in life that is why he became so obsess with finding Julian Carax. Plus who doesn’t like a good mystery?

    P.S. both Daniel and Julian are so much alike. They are both stubborn to the core in my opinion.

    Well that is all I have for now. Hopefully I will have more to add to the discussion next time around.
    Glad I gave this book another chance. Really enjoying it this time around.

  5. I see from Heather’s response that I should give Fermin more of a chance, and not skip ahead. I’m beginning to think this is one of those stories where everything has a role to play in the mystery, and even casual conversations and bizarre exchanges may turn out to have value as plot or symbol. I also realize that it would be helpful to know more about the Spanish Civil War (more than I know, at least) to appreciate many elements of the book (tone, setting, some of the characters, and certain events), although it is not a strict allegory (is it?).

  6. 3. I think Daniel wants to know what is going on because it is such a mystery. Carax seems like an unimportant figure so why is this all happening? I want to know.
    9a. My favorite character is Fermin. I love every word that comes out of his mouth.
    9b. I have so many favorite quotes here. I think my review is going to be mostly quotes and I’ve started putting them on Instagram too.
    11. It is hard to tell if a translation is good. I love the language here so I think that is a sign that it is well done. I like reading translated books because it gives me an insight into areas of the world that are different than mine. There are references to history and pop culture that I may not understand and I like that.

  7. Haven’t gotten as far as I’d like, but I can answer #2. That’s been one of my favorite quotes so far, too, and this book is already full of them! Mine was Cat’s Cradle. To this day I can go back and read any Vonnegut book (I’ve read the majority of them) and it’s still like I’m reading it for the first time.

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