The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins is one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in quite a while. (This is saying a lot since I’ve been reading a lot of Neil Gaiman!) The very first paragraph describes a girl walking on a road having just committed the murder of a police officer. The book keeps drawing you in after that.
The writing was wonderful. The plot and characters were thought out and well-developed. There are many characters and they all have distinct personalities without being caricatures. I’m actually struggling with how to write this review because I’m worried I won’t do it justice. I don’t want to sound trite, but I really, really liked this book. It is a longish book, but reading it, you hardly notice. You can’t help but care about the characters and what is happening to them. Usually, when I read books, I’m not very surprised. With this book, the plot and the characters were so creative that they surprised me. It wasn’t a whimsical, dream-like plot – it was so smart!
Here’s the general plot line: Carolyn is a young woman who has grown up at a “library” with her Father. Her Father appears to be some sort of god with special powers and the library is full of scrolls that teaches people how to gain these powers. Carolyn has several adopted brothers and sisters – David (violent, warrior), Michael (gets along with beasts), Jennifer (healer, with the power to bring people back from the dead), Peter (mathematics), Margaret (walks in the land of the dead), Rachel (has ghost children), and there were a few more but these are the main ones. Her Father trained them harshly, punishing them for disobedience cruelly. Carolyn and her siblings are forced out of the home where they grew up and their Father goes missing. They have a love/hate relationship with they Father – he is the caregiver they remember (being adopted at about the age of 8, they don’t remember much about their biological parents), but he was so cruel in his training of them that they fear and hate him.
Warning: slight spoiler alert
The book is about Carolyn’s journey. She goes from innocence to a hardened person and eventually has to learn to become an enlightened person. She is a planner, cautious and secretive. She has some help along the way from two regular people – Steve and Erwin. Steve, Erwin, and some others (but saying who would give too much away) end up being Carolyn’s reminder of humanity.
Read this book!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.