The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon was an early June read for me. It is a book which has been on my shelf for a few months now and I’ve never really been in the mood for it, but I knew that someday I would be. Turns out, that someday was this month!
I really enjoyed this book. I fell in love with Zafon’s writing last year when I read The Shadow of the Wind (which you absolutely must read if you haven’t already). I had been looking to reading more of his work and hoped it would be as rich and captivating as my first experience of it; though don’t get me wrong, I was under no illusion that anything would ever be as wonderful as The Shadow of the Wind. I think if you go into this with realistic expectations, you will be pleasantly rewarded!
You can tell that this is written for a younger audience but I didn’t mind as it brought a smile to my face on more than one occasion. In Zafon’s letter at the end of my particular edition, he talks about how he wanted to capture the essence of the adventure stories he read as a child, such as the work of Enid Blyton and Jules Verne. His goal was to remind readers of all ages of those happy bygone days when everything was exciting and magical; I would say he was successful in this aim! There were definitely moments that reminded me of those special days of my childhood.
I loved the setting of this book and found it to be very lush and Gothic. In fact, the setting was so well-written that it almost became a character in itself! I do love when that happens. The writing was exceptional, as I expected, and really demonstrated Zafon’s cleverness. Everything was so vivid and there were some very creepy moments! I also really appreciated the steampunk touches scattered throughout, as this is a genre I enjoy but don’t read enough of!
My only issue was with some of the characterisation; the younger characters seemed too mature for their age, and Dorian was pretentious and annoying. His speech didn’t seem realistic to a young boy. Though of course, it’s always difficult to know if things have been lost in translation.
Overall, I found this to be a fast and enjoyable read! Anyone who loved The Shadow of the Wind will also appreciate this, as long as they go into it with realistic expectations; TSOTW was a masterpiece and nothing can compare to it. Yet, this book still demonstrates Zafon’s love of the written word and his talent at creating unique and exhilarating stories for young and old. A strong 4 stars from me!
Any other Zafon fans out there? Have you ever had trouble with translated books? Leave me a comment!