The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
Crown Publishing (2015), Hardcover, 400 pages
A while ago, I reviewed a book entitled The Rook, which I thought was an absolute wild roller-coaster of a fantasy read. Well, it hasn’t taken long for The Rook to be emphatically overtaken in the wild ride stakes. You have read nothing until you have clapped eyes on Carolyn, David, Michael and the other inhabitants of the Library at Mount Char. This a is a book which starts off with a woman walking down the street at night in a bloodstained dress, and ends with the sun being destroyed, not once, but twice, and a new God installed. It is impossible to categorise this book into any one genre, there are elements of fantasy, sci-fi, crime, social commentary, and many more. The plot so far as it can be described, revolves around a community of individuals taken from their parents as children by a powerful being who calls himself Father, and who may or not be God. He has given them access to an immense library of ancient knowledge and arcane secrets, with each being given a catalog of skills to master. Studying outside their designated catalog is strictly forbidden, and punished in the most horrendous way imaginable. The 12 children have grown into powerful adults, each with an amazing skill set. David is an unstoppable killing machine, Michael can control wild animals, Margaret can die repeatedly, wander the world of the dead finding information, and then be brought back to life by drug-addicted Jennifer. Carolyn, the main protagonist, has the seemingly innocuous talent of knowing a multitude of languages, but Father has earmarked her for something special. As the book opens, Father is missing, possibly dead, and his children begin competing to gain access to the library and become his all-powerful successor. From there the plot is beyond description, it needs to be read to be understood. And it is a wild, wild ride. But it is captivating, mesmerizing, unsettling, shocking, sad, revolting and joyous all at the same time. This is the type of fantasy I like, nothing twee, no Harry Potter nicey-niceness, it is raw, powerful and utterly engrossing. Fantasy for adults, I love it. More please.