The Library at Mount Char

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The Library at Mount Char
The Library At Mount Char book cover.jpg
AuthorScott Hawkins
CountryUnited States
GenreFantasy, horror
PublisherCrown Books
Publication date
Media typeHardcover

The Library at Mount Char is a contemporary fantasy/horror novel written by Scott Hawkins.[1] It is his first novel.

Plot summary[edit]

An unexplained catastrophe destroys part of a town, but twelve children survive. The survivors are "adopted" and raised by a powerful, god-like figure called Father. Together they live in "the Library", an extensive pyramid structured building filled with books cataloging all knowledge of the universe - past, present and future. Father himself, who is revealed to be extremely old (~60,000 years), has authored these books on the basis of his own observation and experimentation concerning the overarching principles that govern the universe. He subdivides this grand oevre into 12 areas or disciplines of knowledge, each of which is assigned to one of his adopted children. Father requires each child to master his or her specific area of knowledge and warns them against the temptation to educate themselves in disciplines outside of the one they have been assigned. His children suspect that this rule is to prevent any one of them from becoming too powerful and a potential threat to Father's unchallenged authority. Father is ruthless in unleashing extreme violence against those who disobey this rule while forcing his other children to witness these punishments. After several years of rigorous and often cruel-seeming methods of training, the children are mysteriously ejected from the Library and cannot re-enter it due to the presence of an invisible field that rapidly incapacitates them when it is breached. Consequently, the children do not know what has become of Father or whether he has been killed or captured by his enemies. The children mobilize and organize themselves in order to solve this mystery and rescue Father.

One of Father's adopted pupils is named Carolyn. Her area of expertise is all of the languages that have ever existed, and she emerges as one of the story's principal narrators. Carolyn is a natural leader herself and she joins together with several of her more powerful siblings to orchestrate a mission to rescue Father and solve the mystery of what happened to him. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Carolyn's role in these strange events is greater than her siblings suspect. She recruits a local man named Steve (whom she had befriended as a child prior to entering Father's service) to assist in the pretense of sleuthing out the mystery. Carolyn uses subterfuge and manipulation of both Steve and her siblings to accomplish her larger scheme of becoming the heiress and ruler of the Library herself. Carolyn accomplishes this at the expense of her siblings' lives, and ultimately the mysterious fate of Father and his role in engineering Carolyn's destiny is revealed.


Reviews of the novel were generally positive by major media sources and critics. The Wall Street Journal described it as "wholly original…the work of the newest major talent in fantasy".[2] The Boston Globe called it "an engrossing fantasy world full of supernatural beings and gruesome consequences".[3] The Dallas Morning News praised Hawkins' writing, particularly the dialogue, but criticized the book's ending, concluding that the book was "a thrill ride that ends with a chore".[4] In a retrospective review of "weird books", Victoria Schwab of NPR called the book an "ambitious and perplexing debut" that "sits somewhere on the border of thriller and speculative fiction, morbid and action-packed and existential and utterly resistant to categorization".[5]


  1. ^ Hightower, Nancy (2015-06-16). "The best sci-fi and fantasy novels for June". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  2. ^ Shippey, Tom (2015-07-24). "Science Fiction: Hidden Worlds". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2016-02-28.
  3. ^ Brady, Michael Patrick (2015-07-02). "Review of The Library at Mount Char". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  4. ^ Bagwell, Cindy (2015-07-01). "Fantasy review: 'The Library at Mount Char,' by Scott Hawkins". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2019-01-08.
  5. ^ Schwab, Victoria (2017-12-23). "Just Trust Me: In Praise Of Strange Books". NPR. Retrieved 2019-01-08.