I almost gave up on this book, but I'm glad I didn't. "The Shadow of the Wind" starts off as a dark, surreal fairy tale and eventually transforms into a gothic detective novel / tender love story. Very odd, but somehow it works. Ultimately though, this novel is Zafón's love song to Barcelona and its culture. The history of the city haunts the story as Zafón weaves in events from the Spanish civil war to make this a distinctly Spanish novel. His characters are simultaneously tragic and bursting with life - I loved Romero de Torres's wisecracks and Sempere's angsty stumbles. After taking us through some pretty dark places, Zafón brings together the many intertwined sub-narratives to a touching conclusion. The audiobook narration is pretty good too.