Published by Crown on June 16th 2015
Genres: Books & Reading, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction
ARC provided by Crown Publishing Group
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.
This book was so different. The Library at Mount Char has elements of fantasy, magic, horror, physiological twists, and science fiction. Yea, it is pretty much a mash of genres. Did I forget to mention that all centers on a library? A bit far out, but really cool.
Let me try to break it down for you: Carolyn is a “librarian” or more like a protege of a man called “Father”. She has been raised to only know her studies, surrounded by people like herself.
No wait, let me try again.
At first, there was Father. He choose twelve apprentices to master their own catalogs of knowledge. He made them orphans and trained the twelve to rule over their area of knowledge. They are living in America, but almost in another dimension. There are homes that hold caverns of space, zombie like people, and animals who can be controlled and communicate. The book starts with Father gone, he is missing. The twelve make a plan to get him back, but Carolyn has other ideas. Maybe they should just decide who is next. This plan of Carolyn’s will take all of their skills, a few chosen animals, an American named Steve, and an investigator named Edwin (who comes closer to understanding Carolyn then he should).
I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up. Right away it was clear that this story had no rules. This story is told in third person narrative. We get Carolyn and Steve, who are the main players. Carolyn, well, she is a bit different and hard to predict. Steve is an ex-con trying to live right. Their meeting is anything but chance. Carolyn lures Steve into a situation where there is no going back. He finds himself behind bars for the murder of an officer, only he didn’t pull the trigger. Their story starts off really complex and doesn’t really get any better.
I have to address the horror aspect, which makes this a bit scary. It is not just a bit gruesome, it is pretty sick. We get real violence from Father towards the children mostly. I know this will turn readers off but it is really such imaginative fiction. Just get over it. We also get a bunch of scary from a character named David. He is the hunter in this story. With his helmet of dried blood and his skills with just a spear, he was a loathsome aspect.
Was all the violence necessary? I don’t know, but it did offer some shock value to my reading. It helped me to understand the depths of fear others felt towards Father and David.
The animals were the most surprising bit of fantasy. We have animals who rule, adopt humans as family, attack on a whim, and/or can offer protection. They are all given their own language, (which the author does not dissect for us, it just is mentioned). The animals offer comfort and companionship. I loved the fierce loyalty of Naga and her relationship with Steve. I won’t spoil her species for you. Just know Steve and Naga was almost my favorite parts of this tale.
Okay, there is just no way to describe this book. It is not easy to digest. I loved its complexity. I loved the surprise actions/reactions from the characters, the horror aspects, the mysticism. It is a brave story to tackle so many subjects. The world is unpredictable, and the characters are not reliable. There are still a few unanswered questions. I might have missed it, because the story is pretty fast paced. The story surprised me. It was like the author’s imagination went wild. I really enjoyed this read. I could barely put it down. I would recommend this story with the stipulation that you go in with no expectations. This story will probably surprise you.
About the Author
SCOTT HAWKINS lives in Atlanta with his wife and a large pack of foster dogs. When not writing he enjoys woodwork, cooking long and impractical recipes, and playing fetch with his dogs. He works as a computer programmer. The Library at Mount Char is his first novel.