The Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins
Summary: Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.
Carolyn's not so different from the other human beings around her. She's sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn't gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient Pelapi customs. They've studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She's sure of it. What she doesn't realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she's forgotten a great deal about being human.
Source: I received a hardcover from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
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The Library at Mount Char was insanely weird. If I'm being honest, I almost stopped reading about halfway through because nothing made sense and I didn't like any of the characters from the Library. Little of the plot was explained and I wasn't sure why I should care one way or the other about these strange and terrible people. But, since my track record with finishing and liking books from Blogging for Books is low, I kept trudging through because I didn't want to hate another book I got for review.
The book rewards you for your patience. The last half of the book was much better than the first. I felt like I was gaining a better understanding of Father's children, what happened to them, and why they were so cruel and terrible. The addition of human characters to the plot and getting their points of view was also helpful in changing my mind. Steve also thought Carolyn and the others were crazy as fuck, so at least I wasn't alone in my opinion.
The ending was weird, but it explained virtually everything, so I was happy. I felt like everything came full circle. I understood why things were the way they were and what was wrong with the other characters. I just wished that the author could have gotten to the point a bit faster and perhaps executed the story a bit differently in order to better explore the loss of humanity that came from being a Librarian. Half of this book is quite a lot to wait for the story to kick in and I don't know that other readers would be as willing to wait that long.
The near end where we figured out the origins of the librarians and how their lives were shaped and changed should have been at the beginning, where at least we can see the contrast, feel some sort of emotion for them, and understand a bit better. I understand that a large point of the book was the loss of humanity of the Librarians. Carolyn was the most human of them, but she was still far from human and I didn't like that she was the main character for so much of the book. Steve should have been introduced sooner or something in order to give me a character that wasn't crazy and detached.
The Library at Mount Char was a weird, surreal horror mixed with fantasy in a real world setting. It was a crazy premise that was certainly interesting. The last half of the book was awesome and I felt like I was rooting for the right people. I definitely enjoyed it and I loved Carolyn's plan and how such tiny actions were allotted her in her plan.
I recommend the book to fans of weird, violent, and horrific novels. I liked the ending and the overall plot. It's definitely more Clive Barker than Neil Gaiman, but I think the synopsis does a pretty good job of explaining what you'll be getting when you crack open the book. It's crazy, but kind of cool.
Labels: blogging for books, Fantasy, horror, Review