I’ll be honest, I’m not even sure where to begin in this review. As soon as the book ended, my head was swirling. Normally, I would say that’s a bad thing, but after letting my brain reform into solid grey matter, I came to realize that if a book had my brain in that much of a tizzy, it’s a good thing. Expect to go on one hell of a ride during this book. The world that Scott Hawkins created is spellbinding, insane, colorful and definitely not something that I’ve seen since I’ve read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.
The story focuses on Carolyn, a librarian, but not in the sense that we normally think of when we hear librarian. While she might deal with books, and languages are her speciality, Carolyn is cutting out hearts, making deals with lions, dressing up in Christmas sweaters, and trying to find her Father, who just might be God. Carolyn and her adopted siblings were raised by an ancient man they called Father, who trained each of them to be masters of their assigned subjects. But one day he goes missing, and the children must fight to gain control of his Library in order to rule the world and possibly herald in a new age.
Carolyn and her siblings, who range from a murderous maniac in a tutu to a stoned resurrectionist, are all kooky characters that are intriguing and heartbreaking at the same time. They were once normal American children but were raised by Father, a cruel tutor who would not allow them to study outside of their library and wasn’t afraid to kill them and resurrect them to prove his points. (Be warned now, this book goes into some dark places.) But when Father goes missing, they band together to find a way to get back into the Library that they can’t seem to enter anymore.
This is how we meet Steve, who gets roped into their plans and must deal with the psychopaths after he gets framed for murder by them. He is the spark of humanity tugging at Carolyn throughout the book. And in a weird way, is the stand in for the reader as he tries to solve the puzzle of Carolyn and her world. A world that is so insane, you’ll be reading through the night to discover more.
This book is like a roller coaster because it zigs and zags in so many directions that at first, you are not sure where Hawkins is trying to take you. But if you hold out, Hawkins connects the dots into one crazy tale and makes you realize he’s been twisting your guts in anticipation the entire time.
I wish this book was longer so I could explore this strange and fascinating world Hawkins set up, and I hope that a sequel is in the works. But if a sequel isn’t something that is on Hawkin’s mind, I would highly suggest this get made into a graphic novel because this world is too colorful not to be seen.
The Library at Mount Char is available from Penguin Random House June 16, 2015.