I’ve heard almost exclusively good things about The Shadow of the Wind. I’ve loved all of the other translated fiction I’ve read, and I love books about books. Objectively, this book was perfect for me. For some reason, though, I just didn’t connect with it. I did sometimes find the prose really beautiful and the loving descriptions of books and secret libraries made my book-loving self very happy. I also liked that the conversations followed a distinctly different pattern than what I’m used to. I felt like I was getting a glimpse of Spanish culture. However, the main character is essentially swept up in someone else’s story. I felt he had very little agency. There were clearly intended to be parallels between his life and that of the man whose life he enters, but I thought the connections were superficial. I ended the book wishing there had been something more.
Unlike The Shadow of the Wind, nothing about Sharp Objects suggested it as a book for me. I was excited to read it for my book club because it was outside of my comfort zone and because of all the Gillian Flynn hype. To be fair to the book though, I’m probably not the intended reader because I generally prefer happy books. Sharp Objects is anything but! Wow, was this book dark. I can see why it has so much great hype though. The writing is completely brilliant. Anytime a metaphor or simile is called for, the comparison is to something dark. This quickly pulls you into a dark and creepy state of mind. I didn’t think the plot was as impressive, consisting mostly of predictable bits and bits that were surprising because the main character made such bad decisions. However, if you like dark and creepy this is precisely the book for you. There are some images from this book which I will never get out of my head. And much as I might want to forget them, I think their staying power is a testament to Flynn’s ability to write.