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Thursday, June 02, 2016

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char was not what I expected, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I picked it up because of the word "library" in the title.  Yup... I'm a sucker like that.

Turns out the "library" at Mount Char is NOT your typical library and it's inhabited by folks who are NOT your typical librarians.  Carolyn and her adopted siblings live in the library with a man they call Father and they spend their days studying thousands of tomes that collectively contain all the knowledge of the universe.  Plus some.  Their knowledge extends into the very, very distant past and into the future.  It includes how to practice medicine, and how to heal completely (even from death).  It includes all the languages of the earth, past and present, and also the languages of the animals.  The catch is that no one person gets to know it all.  They each have their own "catalog" to study.  Carolyn, the main character, studies languages.

This is how it's been for decades.  Then one day the siblings find themselves barred from the library, and Father missing.  Is he within the library, which the librarians can't reach?  Or is he dead?  Carolyn, the only sibling left who still speaks enough English to get along in the outside world, starts formulating a plan to get back into the library and find out what happened to Father.  To do this she'll play on all of her siblings' strengths.  So right off the bat there's a lot of magic/fantasy elements:  there's this force field going on that's preventing the librarians from getting near the library, a force field that only affects some people and affects everyone in different ways.  Also, who is this Father guy?  Is he God?  The back-of-the-book synopsis kind of led me to think so, but you'll have to make up your own mind after you read the book.  He's definitely not the same God that Christians know, but is he a god?  Perhaps.

So that's the plot, much boiled down.  There's so much more going on.  I think The Library at Mount Char could have been twice as long, and I'd probably still want more info!  No big plot points are left unanswered, but there are enough characters and enough back story to leave the reader wanting more.  For example, there are two people mentioned throughout the book, Nobununga and Mithrangani, who are never explained.  Who are they and why do all the librarians fear them?  Where did they come from and why did they show up?  I also wanted to know a lot more about the library and how it was set up and what all the librarians studied.  The Library at Mount Char is written from Carolyn's point of view; I would totally read a companion book from Michael's or Jennifer's points of view.  (They're other librarians.)

The book's blurbs are right:  this is definitely an "unputdownable" page-turner.  Each page reveals another bizarre twist or wacky character.  You won't be able to put it down until you know what on earth is going on.  Just as you think you're starting to figure out a character, everything gets turned on it's head!  Occasionally I'd have to go back and re-read a paragraph to make sure my eyes didn't deceive me.  Like when Daniel is first described... did I really read that a 6'+ guy was running around in a purple tutu?  Yup.  And that was one of the least bizarre reveals.  I can't think of any other examples that wouldn't give away big plot points.  Carolyn herself is described as wearing a Christmas sweater with bike shorts and galoshes.  (Normal clothing choices are not, apparently, part of any of their courses of study...)

And last but not least: the writing style.  Most excellent!  Scott Hawkins has a way with words.  I can't put my finger on any concrete examples, but there were definitely passages that felt very Stephen King-esque.

Everything in the book is building toward a HUGE battle for control of the universe, and you won't want to miss finding out about the plans and the battle itself and the aftermath!


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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