SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
Title: The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Page Count: 486
Genre: Historical fiction
Tone: Literary, intricate, mysterious
1. What did you think of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books? Would you like to explore such a place?
2. Before you began the book, did you have any expectations? How did this meet, exceed, or disappoint them?
3. It is said that each of us reads a different book, because we all bring our own experiences and preconceptions and thoughts to our reading. What book did you read? There’s so much to absorb in this book; what stands out to you?
a. The love story (-ies)?
b. The mystery of Julian Carax?
c. The Javert-like Inspector Fumero?
4. “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.” (p. 215) Do you agree? In what ways was this your experience while reading The Shadow of the Wind?
5. Why do you think the novel (and the fictional novel by Julian Carax) is called The Shadow of the Wind?
6. The character of Fermin plays many roles in the course of the story. What are they? How does he impact the plot?
7. In what ways are Daniel and Fermin good for each other?
8. What roles do Daniel’s parents play in the story?
9. What are some of the significant turning points in the book?
10. How did Daniel’s first encounter with Lain Coubert affect him? What did you make of this shadowy character? At what point did you realize his true identity?
11. What is the significance of Victor Hugo’s Mont Blanc pen?
12. How would you characterize Zafon’s use of language?
13. How are women portrayed in the book?
14. How does Daniel’s life begin to parallel Carax’s? How did you feel about this?
a. Though they follow very similar trajectories, one ends in tragedy and the other in happiness. What are the differences that allow Daniel to avoid tragedy?
b. What is the relationship between Carax and Daniel?
15. Did Julian deserve for Miguel and Nuria to lay down their lives for him?
16. How does the setting – Spain under Franco – affect the story? Could the story have taken place somewhere other than Barcelona?
17. How are the sins of the fathers and mothers visited upon different characters?
18. Who would you say is the pivot around which the events of the story revolve: Carax or Fumero?
19. How would you describe the tone of The Shadow of the Wind?
20. How do suspense and humor work together in the novel? Does the existence of one reduce the impact of the other, or is the book enhanced by the use of both?
21. What is the view of evil within the book as a whole? What does it see as evil? What does it see as the solution to evil?
22. Which values and perspectives are encouraged by this book? Which does it discourage?
23. Did the story keep your interest throughout? Did your feelings about it change as you read it?
24. What did you think of the ending, in which Daniel introduces his son Julian to the Cemetery?
25. What are some criticisms of the book? Why might someone not like it?
Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s website
Reading Group Guide discussion questions
Buttery Books’ book club party ideas
Telegraph interview with Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Carlos Ruiz Zafón on bookstores closing
Wikipedia entry on the Spanish Civil War
If you liked The Shadow of the Wind, try…
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
The Club Dumas by Arturo Pérez-Reverte