Hard to please is an understatement.
I can count with one hand the number of books that have had an effect on me, especially as an adult. And most especially after falling in love with the Harry Potter series. I swear those books fucked up my brain processes & my expectations of fiction forever, and now my pickiness when it comes to novels has reached stratospheric levels. Nothing is mind-blowing enough.
Looking back at the last few years, there are only four fiction novels that have captivated me; one of them, I'm still in the process of tasting, swallowing & digesting it.
I'd like to shine a spotlight on them for you and, hopefully, you'll allow yourself to be seduced by these masterpieces.
Wicked is a sort of spin-off and/or fan-fiction of the world-famous classic The Wizard of Oz. It was written by Gregory Maguire -not the author of TWoO- and I must say I find Wicked much more captivating than its root classic novel.
The characters are complex, existing in grey areas and the in-betweens. There's no clear-cut good versus evil, because human beings are not a black-or-white cartoon. There are no role models in this story. What you will certainly find is paradoxes, ugliness & beauty coexisting, and sincerity.
The plot is equally rich and sophisticated. It encompasses a large period of time, which makes the story taste of epicness.
The language in The Shadow of the Wind is weaved to sound like poetry. I hadn't experienced such sweetness and intellectualism in years up until that point. It felt like fresh air. That kind of language is the perfect brand of fuel for my brain & heart & soul, which are difficult to satisfy, I must admit.
I was also engulfed by the story, which rarely happens for me, as I've mentioned a dozen times already. The author has the magnificent ability to build mysterious scenarios; a gothic-like ambience that warms your bones and chills your brain. Strange combination, but I assure you that's how I felt under my blanket whilst reading this piece of genius.
I had never read a novel set in Barcelona, and I was gladly amazed by its beauty & mystery.
I must say that the secondary characters trigger my gag reflex for the most part. Speaking generally: women are dumb and useless, and the main character's best friends are a yawn fest. But maybe that's just me. It is the main character that catches my interest the most.
The world in which the story takes place is intricate and contains layers upon layers of folklore, as well as fictional historical facts. This historical aspect gives the story the necessary life force to stand as its own well-developed dimension.