I loved this book. It had that feeling of underlying evil, secrets, decay. By the end, I didn’t know if the narrator had really experienced the story, or was it all a mind induced illusion? Whatever the answer, it was gripping.
As I librarian, I loved the draw of the book, the description of the old book shops, and the Library of the Forgotten Book. I have come across this idea in other books. Where does it originate? It is the idea that somewhere is a secret repository of all ancient knowledge and books, presided over by a gatekeeper. Only the select, invited few are able to explore its recesses.
The narrator comes from a poor family in Barcelona. His mother dies when he is young. His father is an abusive, alcoholic laborer. He violently objects to the narrator reading. The boy is given a copy of Great Expectations by a kindly old bookseller who takes an interest in him. He has to hide it from his father and finally has to take it back to the bookseller for safe keeping.
He accompanies his father a local daily newspaper where the father is a janitor. After the father dies, the boy is taken in and eventually writes for the paper. But he longs to write a great novel. He moves up in the paper and also starts writing serialized crime novels.
He begins to receive mysterious letters sealed with red wax, with an imprinted image of an angel. A publishing house in Paris seems to be offering him support in his writing.
He rents a creepy old house that has been empty for ages. He establishes a workroom in the tower where he can look out over Barcelona. Eventually, a young woman, Isabella, comes to be his assistant. She admires his writing. Reluctantly, he allows her to live in as a sort of intern, but she is nosy, getting into areas of the house and papers he would rather keep private.
Eventually he meets the mysterious Andreas Corelli, connected with the Paris publishing house, Lux Aeturna. Corelli can give him the monetary backing to be able to write his great novel, but at what price?