STARRED REVIEW
June 16, 2015

The library that holds the secrets of the universe

By Scott Hawkins
Review by
When eight-year-old Carolyn stood in the kitchen in her home, helping her mother make potato salad for a Labor Day picnic, she had no idea her life was going to change drastically in a few short hours. Soon, she and several other children from her quiet suburban neighborhood of Garrison Oaks would be orphaned and forced into apprenticeships with a man who could raise the dead and make light from darkness.
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When eight-year-old Carolyn stood in the kitchen in her home, helping her mother make potato salad for a Labor Day picnic, she had no idea her life was going to change drastically in a few short hours. Soon, she and several other children from her quiet suburban neighborhood of Garrison Oaks would be orphaned and forced into apprenticeships with a man who could raise the dead and make light from darkness.

The children learned to call him Father. He knew the secrets of the universe and how to make it bend to his will. The children were thrown into rigorous study of his catalogs, books that would teach his 13 adoptees to manipulate life, death and the in-between. They learned to speak to animals, to see versions of the future and more. A question was murmured among the students: Was Father God?

The children’s world was turned upside down again with Father’s disappearance: If he is gone for good, one of his apprentices must take his place as keeper of the catalog library, the key to life and death and the universe. Carolyn prepares for the inevitable battle for the library, unaware of the heartbreaking sacrifice she must make to ensure victory.

A combination of horror and contemporary fantasy, The Library at Mount Char is full of varied and interesting characters, with a Buddhist burglar-turned-plumber, war heroes and murderers in tutus all making appearances. In his first novel, Atlanta software engineer Scott Hawkins shows an obvious mastery of the language and an ability to keep readers involved, even if that means meeting at the intersection of bizarre and creepy. The Library at Mount Char is unique, mystical and hugely entertaining.

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