I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Published by Crown on June 16th 2015
Source: First to Read Program
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Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.
Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power. Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.
The Library at Mount Char is a most difficult book to explain. We’re introduced to various children who are all raised by Father, a sort of God-like figure in their eyes, but not their actual father. He assigns each child a different subject, referred to as their catalog, to devote their life to studying. Their topics of study aren’t normal though, nothing as basic as English or Math. Instead they are topics such as the study of animals and being able to communicate with them (so much so that the individual became quite animalistic himself), another to the study of healing (however her abilities extend to being able to raise the dead), and another that is able to foretell the future (with the help of her ghost children whom she was required by Father to strangle in their cribs when they were 9 months of age). And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Oh, speaking of icebergs, there’s an actual iceberg in the story. He’s got legs. His name is Q-33 North. There’s also a sea tortoise named Diver Eye that is also a minister. And let’s not forget Nobununga who was Emperor of the Forests. He’s a tiger.
Yeah. Me either.
So when Father goes missing, everyone is at a loss as to what to do because he’s always been there to guide them in life. What follows is possibly the most unusual story I’ve ever read. But unusual, bizarre, peculiar, even outlandish — all words that still don’t even come close to describing just how weird this book really is. I’ve got to give the author kudos for an extremely inventive and creative story though even though I still can’t figure out whether I actually liked it or not.