Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Library at Mount Char - Scott Hawkins

Title: The Library at Mount Char
Author: Scott Hawkins
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: Blogging for Books

There really aren't many words that can be used to describe this book.  It is all most indescribable.  It is weird.  It is dark.  It is a masterpiece.  

Our story involves 12 individuals, to be called the librarians, and a man that they refer to as Father.  Father adopted all 12 of them when all of their parents mysteriously died one night.  They were all around the age of 8 when it happened and they don't recall much of anything about it.  All they knew was that Father was giving them a new home in the Library, was going to teach them new things, and that he was to be obeyed.  Not obeying Father would result in a fate worse than death itself.

Father has each child learn something different, he calls them catalogs.  None of the children are to study outside their catalog.  Father expressly forbids it.  The catalogs are all different.  While the catalogs are rather broad categories such as war and death, language, healing, etc there is little to no crossover.

The story within The Library at Mount Char takes place a good 20 something years later when the kids are in or around their 30s.  The 12 librarians are locked out of the Library.  They can't even get any where close to it.  Father is missing.  They don't know if he is hiding some where, trapped, or dead.  They are trying to mix in with the Americans, but they have been separated for so long they barely remember the English language and they don't remember much of what world outside of the Library is like.  This story is their journey of trying to find Father and of getting back to the Library.

There are three narrators for this story.  The first is Carolyn.  She is one of the librarians and her catalog is language.  She does the majority of the communicating for the rest of her group and does a lot of the interacting with the rest of the world.  

The second is Steve.  Steve is a plumber.  He has the unlucky experience of meeting Carolyn in a bar.  She asks him to break into a house for her and he reluctantly agrees to do it.  He needed the money and it was a lot of money.  He had no idea what he was getting into when he agreed to this.

The final narrator is Erwin.  He is a former military man who now works for homeland security.  He hates being recognized for what he has done in his previous career.  He is working a connection between Steve's break in and a bank robbery.  He really had no idea what he was getting himself into.

Now, when I said this book was weird, that was a complete understatement.  This book is weird on top of weird on top of weird.  Then when you finally get used to the level of weird it has hit, it gets even weirder.  Don't worry though, the weird doesn't stop there, it just keeps on coming.

The characters themselves add a lot of the weird to the story.  

You have David who's category is war and death.  He wears a purple tutu and does not wash the blood of his victims out of his hair!  His hair is caked so thick with the blood that it may as well be a helmet it has gotten so hard and thick.  He is virtually indestructible and is the best warrior there is.

Then there is Margaret.  Her catalog is the undead and the afterlife.  It isn't that she sees ghosts and what not though.  SHE ACTUALLY DIES AND GOES TO THE UNDERWORLD.  She has died so many times that she permanently stinks of death and decay.  She has flies buzzing around her head and she has pretty much lost all touch with reality.

The other character of note is Michael.  His catalog is the study of beasts.  He goes away for long periods of time and trains with different animals.  He is gone so long that he tends to forget how to speak to the rest of the librarians and it takes him some time to remember how.  He tends to be completely naked.

The story is also very very dark.  There are a lot of points in the book where the squeamish should skip over.  Quite a few battle scenes happen where David goes kamikaze and destroys all that get in the way.  Hawkins does not spare us any of the gory details either.  He lays it all right out on the page for us to read and imagine in our heads.

The Library at Mount Char reads very slowly, but that is a good thing.  There are a lot of details that you need to keep straight and be aware of.  If it read any faster you would miss a lot of things going on.  This book requires patience.  It is hard to tell what is going on at first, but eventually through all of the weird it starts to make sense.  It is quite brilliantly crafted.

My Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.


  1. Stephanie, I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but I'm adding too many of your books that you've reviewed to my TBR. I think I'm over 360 on goodreads. This sounds fascinating! Bizarre like Night Circus (which I loved). I'm in! (Damn you!) ;)

    1. Do you use blogging for books? That is where I got this one from. They send you one and you review it on your blog and post it onto their site and then they will let you pick another one. It is for Crown mostly. You will have downtime when waiting for a new book, but it lets you get other reviews done :) I have a rice crispy treat like one coming next lol.

      And I take no offense. I have actually gotten to interact with Scott (the author) on goodreads and on reddit due to my review. He is fabulous and takes the time to respond to questions.