The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Read Oct 1 – Oct 12
This book is a bit unlike anything I’ve ever read before. The closest I can think of is 14 by Peter Clines, but even then, it’s more. I buddy-read this book with Katy @TheBibliobibuliOnBookbinderWay and we both really liked it.
The book opens on the main character, Carolyn, walking down the side of a highway, coated in blood. While the scene itself ends up not being super duper significant in the overall plot, it definitely sets the tone. It feels weird and unsettling and when a good samaritan pulls over to ask if she’s okay, my brain went ‘Nope leave her there’ immediately, already on alert that she was not someone you wanted to be around.
From there, the plot starts to slowly unfold – Carolyn and her ‘siblings’ are being blocked from entering their dwelling, the mysterious library, and their Father has disappeared. The library and what exactly Father is largely remains a mystery until the end of the book, and it creates a feel of uncertainty as you read. Too, the catalogues that each of the siblings studies as librarians are a bit outside the norm of what a normal library would hold.
All of this, together with the intense writing and out-there plot developments makes this book a very gritty, dark read. This isn’t a book you’d want to let your ten year old into, as it contains scenes of violence against children. I won’t go into what, for spoilers, but reading those scenes was difficult for me. The book is written in a way that doesn’t glorify the events, and they are relevant to the plot. But just so you know, they’re in there. So head’s up.
I think one of my favorite things about this book was the author’s ability to make me say ‘what the hell’ after the end of almost every chapter. The events of the book, as stated, are a bit out there. Things happen that are so bizarre and it takes a bit to get used to, but they’re bizarre in a consistent manner. There’s an order to how weird everything is, and I think that’s what made me love this book. I’m ok with suspending my disbelief if the author can paint a picture and make it all-encompassing, and that’s what Scott Hawkins does.
Character-wise, I didn’t like any of them except Dresden and Erwin. But when I say I didn’t like them, I don’t mean they were badly written. I mean they’re well written, but just awful people. Don’t go into this expecting to root for people, they’ll all leave a foul taste in your mouth. It kept me reading – watching these characters be who they were, and part of me hoped they all would just fail at everything. So not hate-reading, but reading while hating the characters as people, not as single-dimensional tropes. See the difference? I loved this book.
Finally, the ending of a book is make or break for me. I could absolutely adore the first 5/6ths of a book but if the ending is shit, the book will drop a star rating, sometimes two. But the ending of this, while just as totally insane as the rest of the book, was a solid ending in my opinion. I didn’t like the outcome of a lot of the characters, but it also fit really well with how Carolyn and the others were colored to act. It wasn’t outside their normal range of behavior. So while I wasn’t overly fond of how some seemed to just get away with awful deeds and others paid dearly for minor ones, it still fit the story.
So. Loved this book. Can definitely see me rereading it. Going on favorites list.