Remember The Shadow of the Wind by the same author? Sure you do. I talked about it here. Well, this is a continuation of the story. No it isn’t. It’s a prequel, actually. This second volume in what is now a three volume series now under the heading of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books umbrella, is set beginning in the very early 1900s. In the first volume, the principle character Daniel Sempere is …. ok, let me start from a better starting place.
David Martin is a young man whose mother left his father and him when he was quite young. His alcoholic father was illiterate and abusive, forbidding David to have any books or schooling. One night his father is murdered, and now he is an orphan. He is given a place to live in the offices of a newspaper where his father was a janitor. He learns to write ad copy, and yearns to be a writer of repute.
He meets a guy named Corelli who gives him an obscene amount of money to write a book for Corelli based on Corelli’s idea, one which will change the world.
David’s longtime benefactor and mentor, the guy who got him the copy writing gig, is wealthy, and a dilettante. He, too, dreams of being a famous writer. His driver has a daughter, with whom David falls in love. David rents an old wreck of a house with a tower studio. [Sigh. I SO want one of those.] There is a whole tangle of a thread in the story about who built it and lived in it previously. It all involves murders, stalking policemen, true love gone astray, and David’s closest ally, the bookseller Sampere, and his shy son. The bookseller takes David the The Cemetery of Forgotten books, a labyrinthine building housing thousands of books now forgotten, the one absolutely safe place where one can hide and save a book. David is permitted to take one book from the shelves, any one of his choosing. He is drawn to one that seems to have been written by the previous occupant of his house and seems to be also a book written for Corelli.
The review from the New York Times says:
Gabriel Garcia Marquez meets Umberto Eco meets Jorge Luis Borge. Ruiz Zafón gives us a panoply of alluring and savage personages and stories. His novel eddies in currents of passion, revenge and mysteries whose layers peel away onion-like yet persist in growing back. We are taken on a wild ride that executes its hairpin bends with breathtaking lurches.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Remember I told you that so many Hispanic writers have that touch of fabulism or surrealism in their works. Well, this one is no exception, and Zafón uses every opportunity to haul out the archetypes and symbology, and honest to Pedro, it makes for some fine (and convoluted plotting). Stories within stories, plot threads around plot threads. What a kicker! And now I can’t wait to read the third volume, The Prisoner of Heaven.