Martin is approached by a mysterious publisher, Andreas Corelli of Editions de la Lumière, who wants him to write a religious text, one that will actually found a new religion. Corelli is polite, but he has yellow eyes like a wolf and is frankly offering far too much money. Martin discovers that the previous owner of his house received a similar sum for a similar commission and apparently came to a sticky end. He also discovers that the Parisian address on Corelli’s calling card is a burnt-out shell, long derelict, and that Corelli supposedly died many years ago. Ooh-er. Lumière; light-bringer; Lucifer, anyone?
And so, the verdict? In The Times, Margaret Reynolds likes it, but she also makes it sound like a mishmash:
If you know your 19th-century melodrama there are pleasures in this novel, but readers with other penchants will be taken, too. There are Dan Brown puzzles and Mean Street realisms, there are quirky contemplative philosophies and — best of all — intriguing aphorisms: “Envy is the religion of the mediocre”; “You end up becoming what you see in the eyes of those you love.”
And in a different review at The Times, it again sounds like a mishmash, albeit one that Hugo Barnacle could have done without:
The novel is styled like the penny-dreadfuls that Martin used to turn out, with lots of horrible murders, tragic lost loves, crooked cops, shady lawyers, supernatural mysteries and shocking revelations. Although the plot retains its overall shape, such as it is, the amount of picaresque incident and Grand Guignol lead to something of a pile-up. Characters are thrown in and killed off at a great rate. Rather as in Hindu mythology, anything can happen, so nothing is surprising. Zafon does not quite sustain the loony levels of excitement found in the one great survival of the penny-dreadful era, Marcel Allain and Pierre Souvestre’s Fantomas.
Sounds missable . . .
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