The novel’s protagonist, Daniel grows from a child to an adolescent and comes of age over the course of the book; in its epilogue he appears as a middle-aged man and a father. Daniel becomes… read analysis of Daniel Sempere
The kind and humble owner of a secondhand bookshop, Mr. Sempere is Daniel’s father. While the novel’s fathers are often dogmatic and controlling, using their children to fulfill their own ends, Mr. Sempere is… read analysis of Mr. Sempere
Daniel meets Fermín when he’s a homeless man living near the Barceló apartment; on a hunch Daniel offers him a job at the bookshop, and Fermín turns out to have an encyclopedic knowledge of literature… read analysis of Fermín
Julián Carax is a brilliant but little-known author whose work Daniel discovers by chance in the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. While he’s a native of Barcelona, he’s left no trace of his life in… read analysis of Julián Carax
Nuria meets Julian Carax while working as a secretary for his publisher, Cabestany. She falls in love with Carax by corresponding with him and reading his work, becoming driven to aid him even before… read analysis of Nuria Monfort
Beatriz (“Bea”) Aguilar
Beatriz is Daniel’s lover, whom he meets through her brother, his best friend Tomás Aguilar. Like Penélope Aldaya, Carax’s secret lover, Beatriz is the pampered and sheltered daughter of a wealthy… read analysis of Beatriz (“Bea”) Aguilar
Penélope is the Aldayas’ young and sheltered daughter, who falls in love with Julián Carax (who is actually her half-brother, though neither know this) at first sight. While Carax’s search for her dominates his life… read analysis of Penélope Aldaya
Daniel meets Clara, his first love, because she’s the niece of Gustavo Barceló (who is Mr. Sempere’s colleague and friend). Notwithstanding the fact that she’s much older than him, Daniel is immediately infatuated, partly… read analysis of Clara Barceló
Jorge Aldaya is Penélope’s brother, the arrogant and unintelligent eldest son of the Aldaya family. He’s too weak to interest his father, and comes to resent the extent to which Mr. Aldaya ignores him… read analysis of Jorge Aldaya
Ricardo Aldaya (Mr. Aldaya)
Father to Penélope, Jorge, and Julián, Ricardo Aldaya is a wealthy, cruel, and philandering industrialist. He runs his family autocratically and his relationship with his children is based on total control and… read analysis of Ricardo Aldaya (Mr. Aldaya)
Isaac is the keeper of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, as well as Nuria’s father. He’s grouchy and affectionate towards Daniel, but his estranged relationship with his daughter is one of many… read analysis of Isaac Monfort
Don Federico is the neighborhood watchmaker who’s known to be gay and moonlight as a drag queen. Even though the neighborhood is relatively narrow-minded and conservative, everyone likes Don Federico for his gentle temper and… read analysis of Don Federico
Fortuny is the father with whom Carax grows up, although Fortuny knows even before his birth that he’s not Carax’s biological father. Fortuny is a narrow-minded and dogmatically religious man who tries to mold Carax… read analysis of Antonio Fortuny
Don Gustavo is a much more prosperous friend and colleague of Mr. Sempere. He takes an early interest in Daniel, allows him the run of his house and library, and swoops in to… read analysis of Gustavo Barceló
Miquel is Carax’s best friend at San Gabriel’s School. Miquel is one of the few rich characters who aren’t corrupted or weakened by wealth. Rather, he’s intelligent and eccentric, displaying an interest in philosophy… read analysis of Miquel Moliner
Tomás is Bea’s brother and Daniel’s best childhood friend, a large but timid boy whose inventive genius is stifled by his overbearing father. Tomás is a foil to Jorge, the wealthy friend… read analysis of Tomás Aguilar
Mr. Aguilar is Bea and Tomás’s overbearing father. He’s determined to send his son to the military and force Bea to marry an appropriate fascist. But unlike Mr. Aldaya, his counterpart in Carax… read analysis of Mr. Aguilar
Sophie is Julian Carax’s mother, a shy woman made timid and afraid by her abusive husband. While she loves her son, she’s unable to help him against his domineering father, leaving him to fight… read analysis of Sophie Carax
Laín Coubert / The Stranger
Laín Coubert is originally the name Carax gives to the devil in one of his novels. Later, it’s the alter ego he adopts after learning of Penélope’s death and beginning the quest to burn… read analysis of Laín Coubert / The Stranger
Zacarías is a creature who appears in Jacinta’s dreams and possibly in her real life. Dressed in black, accompanied by a cat, and sometimes covered in scales, he seems distinctly demonic, but in… read analysis of Zacarías
Jacinta is Penélope’s devoted governess. She had a deep spiritual and emotional connection to her charge, believing her to be the daughter she could never have. After the discovery of Penélope’s affair, the Aldayas… read analysis of Jacinta Coronado
Mrs. Sempere / Daniel’s Mother
Never named in the novel, Daniel’s mother dies when he is very young. Daniel loves and misses her, but is ashamed that he can’t remember much of her or share in Mr. Sempere’s… read analysis of Mrs. Sempere / Daniel’s Mother
Irene Marceau is the crusty but kind owner of a Paris brothel. She rescues a starving and sick Julián Carax from the street and hires him as a pianist. Later, she plans to marry him… read analysis of Irene Marceau
Palacios is one of Fumero’s hired thugs, helping him kill Nuria and trailing Daniel at various points. However, he lacks Fumero’s appetite for brutality and is clearly dubious about his job; his reticence in… read analysis of Enrique Palacios
Cabestany is the publisher who printed Carax’s novels even though they sold terribly. This is because Miquel Moliner financed all the editions.
Bernarda is the Barcelos’ incredibly religious maid. She acts as a mother figure to Daniel, taking care of his clothes, and later becomes engaged to Fermín.
Pablo Cascos Buendía
Pablo is Beatriz Aguilar’s fiancé, an ardently conventional and stupid Fahmmlangist who fulfills all her father’s criteria for an acceptable man. He’s a direct contract to the artistic, eccentric, and leftist Daniel.
Doña Encarna is Fermín’s landlady. Although she puts on a tough front, she has a soft spot for her eccentric tenant.
Father Fernando is a friend of Carax during his time at San Gabriel’s school. Later, he becomes a priest and works at the school.
Professor Javier Velázquez
Professor Velázquez is a fascist professor at the university where Bea studies, as well as a client of Mr. Sempere.
Doña Aurora is the gossipy and voyeuristic caretaker of the building that houses the defunct Fortuny hat shop and Carax’s childhood apartment.
Mr. Molins is the lewd administrator of the building that houses Carax’s childhood apartment. While he lacks any interest in the case, he inadvertently helps Daniel find out that Nuria controls the PO box associated with Sophie Carax’s fake lawyer.
Viçeneta is a neighbor of the Fortunys and Sophie’s only friend during her marriage.
Jausà is the eccentric millionaire who designed the mansion that later belongs to the Aldayas. His wife’s lurid murder at the hands of Marisela, his maid and lover, gave the house its reputation for being cursed, which he amplified by attempting to track Marisela’s spirit via film.
Marisela is Jausà’s maid and lover, who eventually destroys the house and kills Jausà’s wife, presumably out of jealousy over her pregnancy, before committing suicide. Many people believe Marisela still haunts the house, and her presence may or may not have manifested itself while the Aldayas lived there.
José María Requejo
Requejo is the fictitious lawyer Nuria contrives to control the Fortuny apartment.
Mrs. Aldaya is Penélope and Jorge’s mother, an aloof high-society socialite without a shred of maternal instinct. She shows her lack of feeling for her daughter by failing to protect her from Mr. Aldaya’s rage after her affair with Carax is discovered.
Fonseca is the city morgue employee who tells Barceló of the unique circumstances surrounding Carax’s supposed death and the identification of his body.
Gelabert (a real-life inventor and screenwriter) is the cinematographer hired by Jausà to track his dead lover’s spirit through the house.
David is the illegitimate, stillborn son of Carax and Penélope Aldaya. His family keeps his brief existence a secret because his parents’ relationship was incestuous, and Carax only finds out about him years later.
Sanmartí is the lecherous owner of a publishing company where Nuria works. On the orders of Fumero, his close friend, he fires Nuria, after which Carax kills him in revenge.
Mercedes is Nuria’s colleague and friend at the Sanmartí publishing house.
Julián is Daniel and Bea’s son. He’s a foil to the son Carax was never able to have. His happy childhood, and introduction to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books at the novel’s end, show that Daniel has fully differentiated his own life from Carax’s tragedy.
Laurent is Julián Carax’s alter ego when he moves to Paris at the end of the novel and begins to write again.
Neri is Clara’s music teacher and Daniel’s rival for her affections. Daniel’s first youthful disillusionment comes when he discovers Neri in bed with Clara and the musician punches him.
Merceditas is one of the Semperes’ neighbors, whom Daniel suspects of having a crush on Mr. Sempere. Although Merceditas is conservative and religious, she’s deeply sympathetic to the gay Don Federico’s plight when he’s arrested by the police, showing the neighborhood’s solidarity in the face of government oppression.
Don Anacleto is a schoolteacher who lives near Daniel and Mr. Sempere. Pompous but well-meaning, his garrulous speeches give color to the neighborhood.
Clara's tutor in France. He stumbles upon a novel written by Carax, and becomes obsessed with both the novel and Carax more generally.