The Library at Mount Char; Scott Hawkins
This was a book I wasn’t sure how to rate until after I’d finished it and thought a little bit. The beginning was slow, and I had a tough time settling into the story. Good reading is very immersive for me–only during sub-par reading am I aware of the act of reading itself. But when I finally got into it, I was soon very invested to see where it ended.
What attracted me to the book was the mix of bookish things (library, Librarians, books, and study), and magic. What I found was… weird. If you have a low tolerance for strange, or slow-moving plots, this book is not for you. But if you like clever puzzles, and can tolerate some torture, this book is quite a fiendish plot!
Carolyn and a few other orphans were adopted by Father (why and how is explained eventually) and made into Librarians, a drawn out and dangerous process, as the things they learn are basically magic, part of the god-like powers Father possesses, divided into type. Control over death, communion with animals, all kinds of fighting, or all spoken/written languages are just a few of the catalogs.
Father is a very harsh task master, with draconian punishments for failure. And then he vanishes, and they’re prevented from entering the library. Somehow, they must get into the library, and discover what happened to him. The doing, however, is difficult.
It’s impossible to say much more without giving things away. However, everything is definitely twisty–the story skips around in time, gradually unfolding the Librarians’ past, and how they got to the situation they’re in now. A few of them are deeply disturbed, and a few more normal people are caught up in the story, too. One of them is definitely a favorite of mine, though I can’t say why without giving anything away. There’s an unusual philosophy involved.
When the carefully constructed layers come together, it’s the same sort of clever reveal of a heist movie or mystery–suddenly, a lot of little things make sense, coming together to form a new picture. Overall, I enjoyed it, though I’m not sure if I want to read it again, yet.
Recommended for fans of twisty, literary plots, and weird, warped characters.