The Library at Mount Char is an urban fantasy/horror novel about Carolyn and her adopted “family” who are studying the seemingly endless knowledge of an immortal being that they call “Father”. The lessons that they learn are terrifying but powerful. After years of fear and torture at the hands of the Father and some of her siblings, Carolyn wants to break free from her living nightmare. She knows that she can’t trust anyone, but she also doesn’t know all of her Father’s secrets. How exactly does one escape from a god?
I think that this book is fantastic. The characters are more than human and divinely flawed, all of them. The plot proceeds at a breakneck pace, going from thrilling to apocalyptic so quickly that I couldn’t put this book down. Yes, I lost some sleep reading The Library at Mount Char. If you pick this up, I bet that you will too.
Sensitive readers, beware. There is sexual violence/rape, physical abuse, mental abuse, and animal abuse in this book. If any of those topics cause troubles for you, you may want to choose a different read.
The distinctive mix of godlike powers and very human, emotional, knee jerk reactions contained in this story reminded me of some of the darker Greek and Roman mythological story elements like the serial rapists (Zeus and about every other major god figure) and the unjust punishments of the innocents (Medusa, Actaeon, Laocoon, etc etc). Those mythologies were written to explain the unexplainable workings of nature, weather, time, and humanity itself. I think, if one makes The Library at Mount Char into a metaphor for reality, that in a modern way, it fills the same role as those more ancient stories. It gives a rhyme and reason to the mystery that is life. Pretty deep for a debut fantasy novel, yes?
Some of the twists I saw coming, but others, some of the big ones, I didn’t. It kind of reminded me of an M. Night Shyamalan film, except instead of one gasp worthy moment, there were maybe six of them. After each one, I’d sort of put the book down for a second and start to rethink the story from the new vantage point that the author had just provided. It’s really an amazing work for a first novel. Maybe Hawkins will give the world a series?? Please. I’d read it.
If you like The Library at Mount Char, you may enjoy reading The Circle by Mats Strandberg (dark, gritty fantasy about witches coming into their powers) or Powerless by Tony Cooper (dark fantasy/mystery about super heroes who are running from their past and their powers).
Thank you to the Goodreads First Reads program for an advance reader copy of this book. And, thank you for reading!