if you were given the chance to study the mysteries of the world? Would
you be satisfied by the quest for knowledge or would you also seek
power? After a horrible tragedy, twelve young orphans are taken in by a
man they call Father and are given such an opportunity. What happens when
they become adults?
Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.—The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (Penguin Random House / Crown Publishers, 2015, p. 3)
She was smiling.
- Setting: modern times; Virgina (I think)
- Circumstances: Carolyn and eleven other children are taken in by Father after a disaster kills their parents and destroys their homes. He gives them rooms in his immense library, teaching each child, according to his or her skills, a specialty: languages, math, medicine . . . death and resurrection. Decades later, the librarians have become strong in their areas and are used to their routines, despite the increasing competition among them. But when Father, who has long since revealed his cruel side, suddenly goes missing, who will be powerful enough to find him or, perhaps, who will defeat the others and take over the library?
- Characters: The librarians: Carolyn, a language specialist; David, a warrior; Michael, a naturalist; Jennifer, a healer; Margaret, a walker among the dead; Peter, a mathematician; and six others. Father who is all knowing. Various people, animals, and beings they come in contact with.
- Genre: Argh. I'm not sure. Speculative? Literary? Fantasy? Theological? Mystery? Thriller? Horror? Alternate history?
- Themes: friendship, family, theology, power, revenge, knowledge, the nature of the universe, the world as it really is
- What I liked: Everything. OK, that's no help.
- There are mysteries: Why were these twelve children saved from the disaster? Who is Father? What will happen without Father's guiding hand?
- There are things to think about: What if you had power over life and death? What if you could truly talk to the animals? What if you could change the universe? What if you could change the past? What if you could have absolutely anything?
- The structure of the book & the writing: We come in near the end of the story and the details are filled in as we need them; brilliantly done. I truly had a hard time putting the book down. The pacing is excellent; the characterizations are perfect. There were surprises all the way to the end. There is so much to think about!
- Things to know: This is a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. It's different, fresh, horrifying, and mesmerizing. It will suck you in and hold you there. You'll be thinking about Carolyn and the others long after the last page. You'll want everyone you know to read it.