Friday, February 3, 2017

Book Review: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Paperback, 388 pages

Published March 15th 2016 by Broadway Books

This is the second book in a row that I read because of Facebook posts by authors I respect. In this case it was a post by one of my all time favorite authors F.Paul Wilson who said "It’s a work of amazing imagination...Its influences come from all directions: the Old Testament to Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” to regression analysis and beyond." That was enough to sell me on it. I put on my hold for later in the library and now just seemed the time.

It is a weird and amazing fantasy novel that is challenging to explain. The dust jacket of the book says:

A missing God.

A library with the secrets to the universe.

A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.

The Main Character of the novel is Carolyn who was brought to the library in the 70's after losing her parents. She has a new Father who we eventually learn is a god. The library outside of space and time is a massive pyramid filled with all the knowledge and secrets of the universe. Makes sense right, her brothers and sisters are at library to learn the knowledge of the universe but when their father disappears they are dragged back to our world to try and find him.

This novel is cross between high fantasy that verges on the feelings evoked by biblical and greek gods in fiction with moments of gonzo violence and bizarro surrealism and humor. I was not expecting some of the crude humor but the novel never feels dumb. With chapter titles like Buddhism for Assholes this is C.S. Lewis style fantasy. The level of imagination and creativity is just as extreme as some of the humor.

As fantastic as the setting is the characters at the heart of the novel Carolyn, Steve and NSA agent Erwin are fully realized. Erwin is probably the character I most related to, and he has some of the best moments and lines in the novel. Carolyn is interesting and certainly this is here story, you can not say she is a hero. A deeply flawed character that has access to godhood. Hawkins smartly rolls out her back in the second half of the book.

This is a excellently written, paced and realized novel. I didn't give it higher markings because I just didn't connect with it. However I read it quickly and laughed often while reading. This bizarro fantasy novel will probably please most readers. The last 80 pages I felt really cooked. I think it is cool to read a epic fantasy set in our modern that also celebrates the magic of a Library.

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