The Library at Mount Char – Scott Hawkins

Hi Book Bugs! I hope you all have had a marvelous week.

After my last blog post, it was pretty obvious that I didn’t enjoy my last book. I have suffered from “Book Blues” in the past (aka, a book slump)… For example, in January, I read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and I loathed it. That book, to me, was like pulling teeth to get it finished. After I *finally* was able to finish it, I read a couple more that just didn’t re-excite me like I needed. It made the start to my year really slow. After that book slump finally passed, I decided, no matter how long my book list, I would ALWAYS read a favorite after I finish a “slump” story. So – I just finished re-reading one of my absolute favorites!

The Library at Mount Char is AWESOME! It’s Scott Hawkins’ first novel, but you would NEVER guess that by how well this book is written. Seriously, from what I can tell, he does a magnificent job at leaving no loose ends. Even for being a rookie, he writes with such depth for the situations and characters- and there are a ton of characters! Despite the large number of people in the book, Hawkins even does a good job in giving recall information throughout the book, so you’ll not be having to guess or go back to reacquaint yourself with a name… for that, I am super thankful because I have horrible name recall when reading.

This book is a fantasy/Sci-Fi type of story. Now, please note that I am NOT a fantasy or Sci- Fi junky! Still, I’m always amazed at these types of novels. It astounds me that there are people out there who think such interesting thoughts, let alone that they are also eloquent enough to portray an entire different universe within less than 400 pages. Do not be phased if fantasy or Sci-Fi isn’t your thing- this book is still rad with a ton of twists and turns to keep all readers engrossed.

The story itself begins with Father’s disappearance. Father is essentially the adopter of Carolyn (our main character) and 11 other young, orphaned children. Father, as the children find in time, is not just a mere mortal, but more of a God, who maintains and resides over the Library. Their version of the Library is somewhat like ours in the sense that it holds books, but different in the sense that all the books hold the secrets to maintaining and ruling the universe, all conveniently separated into 12 categories (one category for each child saved). The children are then tasked with learning their specific category, and ONLY their category (punishment is given to those who disobey, and it is fierce). Categories include such things as language, medicine, war… Carolyn’s is language, BTW.

The Library is also different in the sense that it is only physically accessible on Earth through portals because the physical structure of the Library does not exist on Earth, but more so on a “separate plane of dimension” (Hawkins does a better job explaining this in the book than I am able to do here). Following Father’s disappearance, all the Librarians (referred to as Pelapi in the book meaning Librarian or student) are kept from re-entering the Library by a device that creates harm to certain ones (including the Librarians) that attempt to enter the perimeter of the device. At all costs, the Librarians must protect and defend the Library from those who are attempting to gain access to the secrets of the universe, while they themselves also attempt to gain access.

That is the best generalĀ  synopsis that I can provide without giving away the best twists in the book…. and trust me, there are a ton of twists! I didn’t even get to include all of the main characters- like Steve, the ex-con, framed-for-murder fumbling plumber (BTW- major foreshadowing happens for Steve within his first intro).. or Erwin, the BAMF redneck who continually saves the day in every. single. situation that he gets stuck in. Then, of course, you have the other children that were “adopted” by Father… The story had to have David, the cold-hearted crazed villain (his category- War). The notably insane Margaret (her category- studying the land of the forgotten, aka, she is killed constantly to learn about death’s land). Michael, the beloved friend of Carolyn (he is set to learn the ways of Beasts)… All with their own important rules in the story.

As much as I love this book and it’s twists and turns, I sympathize with those who do not have the stomach for violence like I do when I read. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK if you can’t handle gore. There are some very violent parts that happen…. as vaguely as I can, I will just say there are mentions of rapes, numerable murders, and torture. Some of the parts in the book are very graphic (even on my second time through this book, I still gasped!) Although some may not agree with it, I think it was necessary for the reader to understand better what life was like for the Librarians.

OK- so as always, I will include a little tidbit of what I didn’t like… FYI, it was hard to find that in this book! While typing this review I realized that I never gave thought as to why the Librarians didn’t attempt entry to the Library using a different portal entry. At the end, it’s clear there are multiple points of entry. That is a loose end that Hawkins could have kept tidy near the end by saying * SOMEONE (it’d be a spoiler to say who) * made a new portal instead of using one that “already existed”. ALSO I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT PETEY. PEEEEEETEYYYY!!!!

This book is about determination. It’s about persevering despite the worst conditions. It’s about friendship, and love, and memories. The saying goes “It is the same temperature that hardens an egg that softens a potato… It is what you are made of, not the condition of the situation” or something like that and this book reflects THAT!

Obviously, it is not really meant for younger kids… but, I hope my thoughts persuade at least one of you to go out and get this book so I can have SOMEONE to chat about it with. Maybe, like me, you will just happen to grab it from your local library, fall in love, and HAVE to purchase your very own copy. This was the first book that I ever PRE-ordered before paperback was an option!! That is how much I liked it.

If you read it, or add it to your reading list, please let me know in the comments!!

As always, thanks for reading!

~LK

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