Book Review: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

I read The Library at Mount Char on a suggestion from a friend. Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about this novel. I don’t dislike it – far from it, actually. But it left me unsatisfied if that makes sense.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins
Let me start by saying that I have no difficulty suspending reality and tend to revel in fantasy worlds. That said, Mount Char will push not only your take on reality but your entire belief system. It does not matter what religion you are, Mount Char asks you to – for a moment – discount everything you’ve been taught to accept a larger, broader theology that incorporates elements of science as much as every religion I have ever studied. This may have been the most appealing part of Mount Char, in my humble opinion. There are clear references to a variety of religious doctrines. I would argue it leans on typical Christian principles but the characters are very clear about their personal alliances residing in their own life experiences more than being ruled by a singular religion.
As I am writing this, I find it difficult to discuss the book without giving away some aspects of the story that I rather enjoyed discovering on my own but I will try to keep things vague for now. Initially, I was skeptical of Mount Char and voiced my concerns to my friend – brutal, disgusting, disturbing – on several occasions. But once I surpassed the sixth chapter it made sense – somewhat.
The story lines began collapsing on each other until they blended into a single character’s struggle. Caroline is cold, calculating and thoroughly damaged to a level reminiscent of a feral child. In many ways that’s what she is. Make no mistake, Caroline is well read, funny and completely brilliant but her emotional development is so damaged or stunted that despite her intelligence she fails to grasp the grand plan that has driven her own designs and effectively manipulated her from the start. Mount Char poses and attempts to answer the question “can even the most wretched soul be redeemed?”
I may be painting Mount Char as having an overabundance of doom and gloom but it is more than that. Mount Char is raw look at the best and worst of human nature. It challenges the reader’s perceptions of right and wrong by constantly playing devil’s advocate on behalf of its characters. In the end, I was left wondering how far I would go to protect those I love most in the world and what I would do if they didn’t return the love or understand my actions. This is why I remain torn over my opinion of Mount Char. It pushed me to take a hard look at things I’d rather not consider and most people would find that uncomfortable. But again, I did not dislike this book and I would strongly suggest it for those looking to try something a little different that just might make you feel a bit off balance.

The Verdict on The Library at Mount Char

I borrowed The Library at Mount Char from my library. I wish I could afford to buy every book I read but sadly, that’s just not possible.