Book Review

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the Best Writer on Earth

“Authors are often asked why they do what they do. Often by themselves, as they sit wondering why they didn’t become corporate lawyers or dentists or arms dealers. Why do we choose this strange profession that would rank right below the vocational do-gooder in a list of the least-likely-to-bring-success occupations in the world? I can’t speak for my colleagues, but as far as I am concerned, I write because I really have no other choice. This is what I do. This is what I am.” (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)

Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the best writer on earth. For me, at least, but it’s my blog, so I can say it all I want: Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the Best Writer on Earth. I tripped over him, thanks to Jake’s mom, who was the first to tell us about Shadow of the Wind and how we just had to read it. Jake read Shadow of the Wind first, and for night after night, I had to put up with him saying, “What the hell? … No! It can’t be! … <insert fulfilled sigh here> I just read the most amazing passage …” And it went on and on, because when you read Ruiz Zafon, you have to make these noises. His writing is so visceral; his descriptions, so beautiful, that you just have to sit back, close your eyes, and picture the Barcelona this man so effortlessly paints in the pages.

About Shadow of the Wind: “Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, 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 Julian 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.”

Shadow of the Wind
Okay, the marketing copy could be better, which is why I was slow to start this 487-page monster (it had little print—I mean, really little). Once I started it, though, I couldn’t stop. I was addicted. I ate up every word, like a starving kid eating grilled cheese. In fact—and I’m sure this was not Ruiz Zafon’s intention—I almost wanted to give up writing altogether, because I realized: I will never be as good as Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Arguably, no one will ever be as good as him. As I said, though, it was not his intention to make me feel bad about my own ability. No, Ruiz Zafon loves books, and he wants people to read them and worship them. In many ways, I believe Ruiz Zafon believes that books have souls.

A quote from Shadow of the Wind: “Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that 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 us 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.”

The Angel's Game: scary as hell.
Shadow of the Wind will always be a part of me. As will Ruiz Zafon’s most recent book, The Angel’s Game, which I obviously bought as soon as I finished Shadow of the Wind. About The Angel’s Game: “David Martin, a pulp fiction writer struggling to stay afloat, is holed up in an abandoned mansion in the heart of Barcelona, furiously tapping out story after story, becoming increasingly desperate and frustrated. When he is approached by a mysterious publisher offering a book deal that seems almost too good to be real, David leaps at the chance. But after he begins the work, he realized that there is a connection between his book and the shadows that surround his dilapidated home and that the publisher may be hiding a few troubling secrets of his own.”

I will say this: The Angel’s Game is much, much, MUCH creepier than Shadow of the Wind. After reading a particularly disturbing section, I was afraid to leave the safety of my bedroom to go to the bathroom. I just had a funny feeling that there was something bad in the darkness, and I haven’t had that feeling since I was a teenager reading Stephen King—King, who said of Shadow of the Wind, “One gorgeous read.”

Now, I don’t consider this entry a book review. Do you? Honestly, look back at what I’ve written. I’ve told you very little about these books, and it’s intentional. I can’t tell you about these books, because if I told you anything, I would surely give something away. I will leave you, knowing that Carlos Ruiz Zafon is truly the most talented writer in our sphere today. I will leave you knowing that you must read his books, because they give me hope for the intellect of the human world. So. What the hell are you doing just sitting there? Go to his website: Order his books. NOW.

15 thoughts on “Carlos Ruiz Zafon is the Best Writer on Earth

  1. I am so with you on this. The Shadow of the Wind is such a shockingly beautiful book (I have the “first book that finds…” quote highlighted in my copy). Angel’s Game is super creepy, very Woman in White meets Rebecca meets Faust, but also wonderful. It’s hard to explain how wonderful his writing is, but once you start one of his books you’re completely transported and you don’t even realize it until you come up for air.

  2. Come up for AIR? I’m supposed to come up for air?? Oops. Maybe that’s why I get so trapped in his writing … I just can’t STOP reading once I start. Happy to hear there is someone else out there who has discovered this outstanding talent.

  3. well this book was assigned to me from my AP literature teacher, and i love the book. it can get creepy for me sometimes,maybe because i am 16, the adult content was disturbing. but i really liked the book.

    1. So glad you liked it! And so happy to hear it’s being taught in classrooms already 🙂 So creepy, but so well done. Are you a writer, too?

  4. My mother in law gave me Shadow Of The Wind a year ago. It sat on my dresser for a several months, as I was busy writing my own book. I was having trouble with a certain chapter, stared outside for hours and decided to end the day, not a word typed, my mind blocked from my imagination. Laptop, slammed closed. I glanced at this mysterious book, stacked so perfectly on top of others just begging to be read. The first page had me close my bedroom door and I didn’t leave until I had finished the entire book. I was in awe, although I agree with you Sara, I felt I could never compare myself to the wonderful writer. His words had be craving for more. I was inspired and found he taught me more than I could ever learn in a writers class. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a dream, my world rocked, and so for the 4th time I open the same pages and find something new and my heart pumping with amazement.

  5. I love Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing just as much as you!
    I read The Angel’s Game first and loved it.
    Yes it is much darker than The Shadow of the Wind
    but I love suspense.

    I tell everyone how much I love his writing.
    I myself love books about books and his are by far
    my favorite.
    If you haven’t read his Young Adult book
    Prince of Mist you must read it. It is equally enthralling
    and . . . creepy.

    I can’t wait for the rest of his Young Adult books to be
    released in English and of course the rest of his books
    dealing with the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
    I’ve heard there will be 2 more but no dates that I have seen.

    I can’t wait.
    In the meantime I too will keep rereading.
    I am on my 3rd time with The Angel’s Game
    I find something new every time I read it.

    1. I know, I must read Prince of Mist. I will get to it!!! I’m so happy to hear from another fan. The more we spread word of his writing, (hopefully) the better the next generation of authors will be!

  6. I can understand why you might say that. I first heard about Zafon while listening to an interview with him on “The Strand”, the BBC’s arts and entertainment show. The interview with him had me hooked (he was very funny) and I immediately bought “The Shadow of the Wind”. What an amazing find! I am just now finishing it and have “The Angel’s Game” queued up. Zafon is a true literary treasure.

    1. As you may have guessed from my blog entry, I like “Angel’s Game” more than “Shadow of the Wind.” You will HAVE to let me know what you think of it. It’s a really fun book to discuss with other literary nerds. That’s right; I’m a nerd. Especially for Zafon!

  7. Hi everyone!


    I just read the angel’s game and didn’t quite understand the ending, did he murdered all the people or…? Because on the last pages he says that he started to remember and that he couldn’t die.

  8. I just read your blog, and I too agree that Ruiz Zafon is by far the best writer to walk the Earth. I first read the Angels Game. I fell in love with it. I read it over and over. Then I read Shadow of the Wind, and it blew me away. I got online to see what else he wrote, and to my disapointment there was nothing in english. And then finally came out Prince of the Mist. Finally. Loved it. Fasinating book. And now today, his other book translated into English, The Midnight Palace. I am on page 55, but it got me at page 1. I am obsessed with his books. I am about to learn Spanish just to read his other two books. Do you know if he is in the works of another book?

  9. Hey Arabian, I havent read the angels game in awhile. But the man in the white tux, or suit seems to be immortal. I remember when David found a picture that had the man in the white tux in it, and David said that the man didnt seem to age at all. David was sick, and the man cured him, which i believe made david immortal. The man in the white tux in the end told david he was going to have to watch the girl grow up and die, that would be his revenge. because the little girl was the woman david loved and lost. the man brought her back as a child. i just dont understand one thing, the angels game, who is the angel? is it the man in the tux?

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