I wonder if my problem’s with the translation. I won’t ever know, because I never intend to learn Spanish.I like the themes of lost books, secret libraries and adolescence.  I love this mysterious figure of an obscure failed novelist named Julian Carax, whom a handful of fans obsessively seek. The book  feels like it belongs to the same family as some of my favourite books – Paul Auster’s Moon Palace, Nicholas Christopher’s A Trip to the Stars.

But I’m ambivalent about the writing. It constantly lapses into cliches and figures of speech. The characters seem to go around with smirks on their faces, making self-deprecating or ironic comments that aren’t even interesting. At one point the landlady keeps on saying ‘You’re a devil!’ in an affectionate way, and it grated on me.

 It’s headed for a 7 out of 10.