Books, Reading, Review
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Book Review – ‘The Library At Mount Char’

Title: The Library At Mount Char
Author: Scott Hawkins
Genre: Fiction (fantasy/kinda horror [but not too scary])
Release Date: June 16, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

“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.” (Goodreads)

This was a spur of the moment ARC request. Shaina read it a little while ago  (you can check out her review and an interview with the author here) and I’d seen it mentioned on other book blogs for a while. I thought it sounded interesting, but I wasn’t interested enough to want to request it. But then I did, and I’m soooo glad that I did as I really enjoyed it. I actually started reading it on my flight to Paris, and it was good enough that it prevented me from watching a million movies on the flight (I think I ended up watching two); I ended up finishing it on my second morning in Paris in the wee hours of the morning when I couldn’t sleep because of the time difference. It’s weird and a little bit creepy, and most of the time there’s only just enough information given to keep the plot moving along, while hinting at some twists and bigger things to come.

Probably the most interesting thing about it for me, was that the main protagonist, Carolyn, is one who is not necessarily likeable. While at times I found myself empathising with her and cheering her on, at others I was hoping that she wouldn’t make it to the end of the book. Her moral compass is virtually non-existent, and while at times she does things that could be classified as kind, that kindness is basically voided by the damage she has caused prior to the gesture of kindness. In fact, the kindness is only needed because of the damage (if that makes sense). She’s a really interesting character in that she doesn’t grow that much over the course of the novel, but as her motivations became clearer my perception of her changed, without her changing that much.

I was left with a few unanswered questions (but I’m one of those people who has to have closure), but for the most part I found the book to be a  really interesting spin on how the world and reality as we know it are put together. And for me the concept of the Library really highlighted the importance – and power – of recorded knowledge. I think in this day and age we perhaps take for granted how easy it is to access the world’s knowledge – everything is literally at the tips of our fingers and it has become a little trivial; we can just type in a few key words, find out what we want, and within the next hour maybe we’ll forget what we discovered. But in The Library At Mount Char, knowledge actually is power and can be the difference between life and death.

Although some aspects of the book were a little bit convenient for me, I figure when it’s a book about people who basically have the power of gods then anything goes. If you want something weird and creepy, with a little bit of blood and guts, twisted reality, and people dying on purpose and coming back to life, then you should definitely give The Library At Mount Char a go. It was a highly entertaining read and at just shy of 400 pages, a surprisingly quick read.

Many thanks to Crown Publishing and Blogging For Books for providing a review copy in exchange for an honest review!

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: September on bitsnbooks | bitsnbooks

  2. Yay, I’m so glad this was a winner for you! It’s definitely weird and I can see that being off-putting to a lot of readers, but I loved how original it felt. I agree that Carolyn was a fascinating character study, and I’m glad she wasn’t constructed just for us to root for her.

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    • I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I didn’t think I’d dislike it, but I just wasn’t super enthusiastic about it. I didn’t like the final solution for the sun – it made me a bit sad. I have everything crossed for a sequel though because I want to know what happens to Petey.

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  3. I was on the fence with this, kind of still am. Your review was great! I’m just not sure if it’s worth diving into at the moment. Thank you!

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    • I think you’ll really like it. Having said that, I think because it was a book I was only half interested in reading that it was better than my expectations (sorry if that doesn’t make sense – I’m tired). Anyway definitely give it a go, I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed in it!

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