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The City Of Invention

The book reviews of UK children's author, Brian Keaney

Self-Consciously Poetic

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves

This is another book I didn't finish reading. I tried and tried but after a while I realised that I had become so reluctant to ingest any more of its cloying prose I had stopped reading altogether.

The plot, about a young man trying to track down the author of a long-forgotten novel he chances upon as a child, struck me as incredibly self-indulgent with its heavy-handed mirroring of the narrative process and, in keeping with its artificial nature, devoid of any dramatic tension.

The poetic nature of the writing and the very deliberate evocation of place is so self consciously handled that it feels as though you're being force-fed atmosphere.

The narrative meanders aimlessly about with one character after another being introduced apparently for no other reason than to tell the central character a little more about the author he is seeking to track down.

Why this collection of unlikely individuals feels compelled to unburden themselves at length to the narrator is unclear. The device is so clumsily handled that at times Zafon cannot even be bothered to work these digressions into the narrative properly; instead he is content with changing to italics and shoe-horning in an extended lump of unreconstructed backstory.

To put it simply, I absolutely hated everything about this book.