The story's narrator is Daniel, 10 years old at the novel's opening and 20 at its close (excepting a brief coda some years later). This ten years could have been laboriously recounted; instead, Daniel's story is the quietly intriguing foundation for an even more intriguing story - that of a book (also The Shadow of the Wind) and the book's author, Julian Carax. But this book is not a case of the traditional frame narrative of a story within a story. These two narratives are inextricably united, startling in their similarities, and utterly necessary to one another. Daniel's father is a book dealer, specializing in antiques and otherwise hard-to-find titles, and in those opening scenes, we watch as Daniel is "given" the Carax novel under some interesting circumstances. From there, the plot unfurls, unravels, and recoils along its labyrinthine path, and the reader gleefully follows that path, confident in the capable hands of Zafon.
The story most definitely has a touch of the thriller, not usually a genre I read. The mystery unfolding was terribly satisfying, though, and kept me enthralled. I was most pleased that the book was able to surprise me without being off the wall. At one point, I began to get worried that it was going to do something rather predictable and unnecessary, and I was particularly happy when it did not.
If it seems I am being vague, it's because I am. I believe any further discussion of thematic or plot points would reveal too much and steal some of the enjoyment of the book. Instead, I'll provide one good passage and one strong encouragement: read this book. It is wholly entertaining.
As I walked in the dark through the tunnels and tunnels of books, I could not help thinking that if I, by pure chance, had found a whole universe in a single, unknown book, buried in that endless necropolis, tens of thousands more would remain unexplored, forgotten forever. I felt myself surrounded by millions of abandoned pages, by worlds and souls without an owner sinking in an ocean of darkness, while the world that throbbed outside the library seemed to be losing its memory, day after day, unknowingly, feeling all the wiser the more it forgot. (76)