Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Library at Mount Char

Title:  The Library at Mount Char
Author:  Scott Hawkins
Publication Information:  Crown. 2015. 400 pages.
ISBN:  0553418602 / 978-0553418606

Book Source:  I received this book through the Blogging for Books program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78."

Favorite Quote:  "No real thing can be so perfect as memory."

This Library and these librarians are like no other I have ever met, seen, or even read about. The inside cover of this book reads:

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

Intriguing to say the least. The Library exists along the nondescript Garrison Oaks subdivision along the nondescript highway 78 as the "Americans" call it. The Library is anything but ordinary and anything but nondescript. It has been home to twelve orphans for years; their parents died and Father "adopted" them. They live a life of learning, control, violence, and sometimes friendship and love. Each has their area of expertise - their catalog of learning - languages, war, healing, the dead, the animals, and more. Each is an expert in their respective area, but all are forbidden to learn from another catalog.

Something is amiss. Father is missing, and the Library lies at the center of a force field that prevents the twelve for even venturing close. What happened to Father? Did one of his enemies attack? Did a friend? Is He merely toying with his disciples? If Father is truly no more, then what happens next? Who will take the place He has held for centuries upon centuries? Who will control the Library?

The story centers around Carolyn, whose catalog is languages. In this bizarre world, I can't decide how I feel about her. Like her? Dislike her? Feel sorry for her? Be afraid of her? Admire her? Be horrified? During the course of the book, I have all these reactions and more. Regardless of the reaction at any given point, however, I want to understand what makes her tick and I want to know what happens to her.

This book sets up this entire world of Librarians, the dead, the normal Americans, the sentinel dogs, the lions and the tiger (oh my!), and, of course, Father himself. The book twists and turns this world like a kaleidoscope all the way until the very last page. Every time I thought I had it figured out, it shifts. I find myself guessing until the very end. The ending itself is satisfying because of course, that's what the ending has to be. It makes sense and leaves the inkling of a sequel perhaps.

Be warned, however. This book is not for everyone. It contains graphic descriptions of violence - blood and guts pouring out and being used as adornment by the killers, people being cooked alive, and the dead coming back to life.  The language of the book is also graphic - a lot of cursing. In fact, some bookstores are including this book under "horror." This is definitely normally not my kind of book. However, the bizarre world set up and the gripping story line keeps me reading. I cringe and hurry over the descriptions and keep reading. The nature and extent of the violence and the language keeps this from being a five star book for me.

The book has some sweet and tender moments also. My favorite is the idea of a "coal heart" - the special something that "she will warm herself on .... when there is nothing else, and be sustained." A close second is the love and sacrifice of a parent for a child. Mind you, the parent and child in this book are a pair of lions, but the emotions portrayed are very human ones.

Much as this is completely not the type of book I read, I couldn't stop reading and couldn't stop guessing what would come next. Considering that this is Scott Hawkins' debut novel, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment