Ten years later, Daniel has a son named Julián and runs the bookshop with Bea’s help, while Mr. Sempere is retired. Bea is “strong and wise,” although given to occasional reveries. Daniel says that Bea and Julián are “linked by an invisible bond” that he can’t quite understand.
While the novel devotes much of its time and energy to dissecting father-son relationships, Bea’s bond with her son is inexplicable and almost mystical. This both elevates it above father-son relationships and makes it seem less complex and human.
The bookshop is surviving but not prospering. Bea says that reading is a dying art because it’s such a demanding and “intimate ritual.”
Fermín and Bernarda are married and have four children. Fermín is now the keeper of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Tomás is an engineer in Germany, and he and Daniel are friendly but distant.
The dissolution of Daniel’s friendship with Tomás recalls Father Fernando’s earlier remark that while his childhood friendships were the most important of his life, they all faded eventually.
Daniel feels that Barcelona is slowly recovering from the horrors of two wars, and that “a certain brightness is tentatively returning” to the city.
Just as Daniel has been able to confront and vanquish the past in his personal life, he feels that his society is beginning to do so on a larger scale.
Barceló has sold his own bookshop and now devotes himself to reprinting editions of Carax’s work, which still don’t sell many copies. Meanwhile, Clara got married and quickly divorced. Now she lives an increasingly reclusive life and is growing bitter in middle-age. She doesn’t like other women, and Daniel thinks that she’s still waiting for someone to “adore” her the way he did when he was a teenager.
Clara’s fate is disturbingly harsh. It seems as though she’s being punished for spurning Daniel when he adored her as a child, even though she wasn’t obligated or even able to reciprocate his feelings. As a child, Daniel felt discarded by Clara; as an adult, he discards her himself.
No one remembers Inspector Fumero. Palacios tells Daniel that a plaque was placed in the police station basement, but it’s now covered by a drinks machine. The Aldaya mansion is now the corporate headquarters of an advertising agency.
These prosaic developments contrast to the dramatic defeat of the demonic Fumero, but they also show that once people confront the past, they can begin to healthily forget it.
One day, Daniel receives a package from Paris containing a novel called The Angel of Mist, by an author called Boris Laurent. He finds an inscription written in the fountain pen’s familiar ink, to him and to Beatriz, “who gave us both back our lives.”
The fountain pen identifies the author as Carax’s new pseudonym. Crediting Bea with leading Daniel to the Aldaya mansion and saving their lives, Carax assigns her significant agency in the story—but in the narrative presented in the novel, she’s largely a passive and obedient figure on the sidelines.
The last paragraph of the book repeats the novel’s first paragraph, in which a young man brings his son to The Cemetery of Forgotten Books at dawn. The child asks if he can share the secret with his mother, and the father assures him he can. However, this child’s name is Julián, and his father is Daniel.
The last chapter repeats the first almost word for word, showing that while some parallels – such as the one between Bea and Penélope – must be broken, others – like the loving, committed relationships between fathers and sons – are well worth preserving from generation to generation.