Review – The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount CharThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Synopsis from GoodReads:
A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.

After all, she was a normal American herself once.

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.

But Carolyn has accounted for this.

And Carolyn has a plan.

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

What did I just read?

No, seriously, that’s what I felt after putting this book down after spending about three hours reading the majority of it, straight, yesterday.  This book is kind of a mind f*ck from the beginning, but it really hits its stride in that department at about the midway point.

I have to admit that, for someone who considers herself a character reader, I didn’t read this book for the characters.  If I had been, I would’ve stopped pretty early on because most of them are, well, psychopaths.  And while it can be fun to read about psychopaths, I suppose, I prefer to have at least one character towards whom I feel sympathetic.  And I just… didn’t have that in this novel.

So then why did I keep reading?  Part of that was the pace, but a larger part was the world.  There was so much there to see, to learn, to explore.  The use of the catalogs, the way language is so central, the way the Pelapi interacted… And, of course, the curve balls that kept getting thrown in the final quarter of the book.  This is a book that I will one day want to read again, with the knowledge contained at the end of the book in my mind so that I can see how that effects my reading of the first half.  Because seriously, so many scenes can be read so differently thanks to what you learn later.

The whole idea of this novel is amazing and I really liked what Hawkins did with it.  The way their upbringing effected the characters, the idea of what constitutes each catalog, and so many other ‘little things that just made the world so amazing.

If you like fantasy that’s more about horror and cunning mixed in with a good helping of psychopaths, you should probably consider giving The Library at Mount Char a go.  But be warned – it is dark, and I do not use that word lightly.

4 out of 5 stars.

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