Let’s talk about the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, shall we? It’s been a few years since I was introduced to The Shadow of the Wind and Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s work in general but I continue to be a big fan to this day. In fact, Zafón’s quirky bookshop in Barcelona, Sempere and Sons, has become a second home to me over the years. Therefore, it goes without saying that The Labyrinth of the Spirits was a bittersweet reading experience for me.
So today I wanted to share with you my review of The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón!
The Labyrinth of the Spirits
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón (translated by Lucia Graves)
Year of Publication: 2018
Genre: Literary Fiction
Series: The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #4
Format: Hardback (832 pages)
As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermin to save him.
Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war.
She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.
The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives. (from Amazon UK)
Size-wise, this book is pretty hefty! I was intimidated by the number of pages but luckily I loved it so much I finished it in three days.
Although Zafón built his world in such a way that the reader could read the books in any order, allowing them to dive in and out of the narratives and timelines because “stories have no beginning and no end, only doors through which one may enter them.” Personally, I’ve stuck to the natural order. But I am curious about what alternative sequences might reveal!
I was a bit disappointed that The Labyrinth of the Spirits didn’t pick up exactly where The Prisoner of Heaven ended. However I can see why it was important for us to see Daniel spiral into darkness following the revelation that his mother was murdered. Which, of course, leads us to that cliffhanger moment at his mother’s grave.
Meanwhile, the Alicia Gris subplot adds a sort of gothic crime thriller feel to the story. As a thriller reader, I loved this!
My favourite part, however, was the final section. I loved the way that Zafón married the series together in a beautifully poignant celebration of the written word. After all, it is a book series about books, a bookstore and a library!
I think that this recurring quote sums it up best:
“Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it.”
Until I can pass the magic of Zafón’s work onto my son, I will carry the stories inside my soul as though they were a part of me. Because I suppose, for a moment at least, they were a part of me after all.
Read this if…
- You loved The Shadow of the Wind or any of Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s other novels.
- You enjoy historical fiction that has elements of magical realism and/or a crime vibe.
Sexual assault, attempted murder/murder
Have you read any books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón? If so, which was your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!