The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (2015)

     “You are Pelapi now,” Father said. “It is an old word. It means something like ‘librarian’ and something like ‘pupil.’ I will take you into my house. I will raise you in the old ways, as I myself was raised. I will teach you the things I have learned.”
He did not ask what they wanted.

TheLibraryatMountCharCarolyn and her cohort of eleven other neighborhood children, adopted by Father after a tragedy kills their parents, are raised in a massive library where disobedience is punished most cruelly. Each child becomes the student and steward of one of the twelve different catalogs written by Father and encompassing answers to many the universe’s mysteries.

Carolyn’s catalog is Languages, seemingly the least powerful. Her tormentor, David, is master of Warfare and a slave to murder. Michael is master of Beasts and Rachel, with her ghost children, can see all possible futures. Margaret has explored the realms of Death and the outer darkness multiple times and is then brought back to life by Jennifer, master of the Medicine catalog.

When Father goes missing and access to the Library becomes impossible, these brutalized, scarred and, in one case, mad apprentices must work together to regain access to the knowledge stored in the library. For whomever controls the library controls reality.

Though the mystery of who overthrew Father is quickly resolved, unveiling the motive for and method of her coup and following her attempts to remove remaining enemies is a delightful, surprising journey that does not end once all enemies are dead. Hawkins is working on a grand scale with microcosmic implications for humanity.

Kirkus calls it “a spellbinding story of world-altering power and revenge from debut novelist Hawkins” and named it a Best Fiction Book of 2015. I couldn’t put it down.


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