Summary and book reviews of The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char

by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2015, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2016, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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About this Book

Book Summary

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling.

A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe.
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.

Carolyn's not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts. 

After all, she was a normal American herself once.  

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father.

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn't had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father's ancient customs. They've studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they've wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God. 

Now, Father is missing - perhaps even dead - and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation.

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own.

But Carolyn has accounted for this.

And Carolyn has a plan.

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she's forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling - and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.

part i
the library at garrison oaks

Chapter 1
Sunrise
i

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.

She was smiling.

Cars were scarce but not unheard-of on this road. Over the course of her night's walk she had seen five of them. The one braking to a halt now, a battered Ford F-250, was the third that had stopped to take a closer look. The driver pulled to the opposite shoulder, gravel crunching, and idled there. When the window...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The vast imagination at work in this novel is impressive, yet at times, almost overwhelming. Steve's amazement echoes the effect that this novel may have on its readership. Although loose ends are tied up and everything that needs to be explained is properly addressed by the end, it is so complex that confusion does occasionally creep in. The Library at Mount Char is also a very violent story, with the gore of a horror flick and the pace of a thriller. Highly recommended, but not for the faint of heart.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Hawkins's cunning plotting is backed up by crisp dialogue, a sensation of constant dread, and a solid, subtly weird setting.

Booklist

Starred Review. [This] novel is compulsively readable. Don't start it if you have something else to do because you won't be able to put it down. Consider yourself warned.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. A wholly original, engrossing, disturbing, and beautiful book. You've never read anything quite like this, and you won't soon forget it.

Library Journal

Starred Review. A bizarre yet utterly compelling debut...might remind readers of Robert Jackson Bennett's or Neil Gaiman's horror/fantasies.

Author Blurb Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of Sandman Slim
A terrific book, full of dark mystery and genuine beauty.

Author Blurb Cory Doctorow, New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother and Makers
A first-rate novel… a sprawling, epic contemporary fantasy about cruelty and the end of the world, compulsively readable, with the deep, resonant magic of a world where reality is up for grabs. Unputdownable.

Author Blurb David Wong, New York Times bestselling author of John Dies at the End
Funny, horrifying and original…the kind of story that keeps yanking you off in ridiculous new directions every time you think you know what's coming next.

Author Blurb Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Beggars in Spain
The most genuinely original fantasy I've ever read. Hawkins plays with really, really big ideas and does it with superb invention, deeply affecting characters, and a smashing climax I did not see coming.

Author Blurb Keith Donohue, New York Times bestselling author of The Stolen Child
This book is batshit crazy. From the very first pages, the story grabs you by the guts and doesn't let go. It mashes together fantasy and thriller, love stories and dark comedy, into a wild trip at once unpredictable and unforgettable. You'll never look at a librarian in quite the same way.

Author Blurb Charles Stross, Hugo and Locus Award-winning author of Accelerando and The Apocalypse Codex
A pyrotechnic debut...The most terrifyingly psychopathic depiction of a family of gods and their abusive father since Genesis.

Author Blurb Walter Jon Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Destiny's Way and This is Not a Game
Don't pick up this book unless you want to read something you've absolutely never read before. The Library at Mount Char is funny, bizarre, moving, frightening, and surreal. The most original work I've read in ages.

Reader Reviews

Amanda

Page turner with enduring questions on what makes us human
This was a super fun, quick read with lots of action and and humor, but it also had depth in that it really made you think about what emotions are necessary to be fully human and alive.

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Beyond the Book

Old Libraries Around the World

One of the features of the magnificent library in Scott Hawkins' The Library at Mount Char, is its age. Some of the books and manuscripts it contains are said to be at least twenty thousand years old. In the real world there are many fascinating old libraries still in existence, a few of which are described below:

Haeinsa Temple

The Tripitaka Koreana In the Gaya Mountains in South Korea, the 9th century Haeinsa Temple houses the Tripitaka Koreana, a collection of Buddhist scriptures carved on over 80,000 wooden printing blocks that date back to the 13th century. Since 1398, the blocks have been housed in the Janggyeong Panjeon complex within the temple. The incredible condition of these ancient wood blocks is attributed both to the sunless building which...

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