book-reviews

The Library at Mount Char

by Scott Hawkins

Rating: ★★★★

A well-crafted one-shot, in the vein of American Gods. Hawkins certainly owes a lot to Gaiman, with his comedy and his dark, fantastical world-building riffing effortlessly on the page, but he makes his own dent in the niche and brings his own flavour to the modern American deity. There were many small touches lightly applied to make the world seem both real and fantastically deep. I particularly appreciated the Lovecraft references and the sadistic interpretation of Gnosticism that Father represented.

The story fell a bit flat for me with Erwin, whom we are forced to watch win, even though I wanted nothing of the sort for him. His story felt shallow, his character thin. David is too mad and delightful a character to hate, and I was actually disappointed that we didn't get to see him humiliate Erwin.

The librarians were mostly great, but most of them were really underused. Three of them didn't seem to appear in the book at all, and some of the others were barely there. Their disposal was fairly cheap, and the reason most of them weren't returned is not very clear. The whole retirement plan seemed to have big gaps in it which the outsiders just never seemed to really capitalise on. The idea that the rest of the librarians were designed simply as environment for Carolyn doesn't fully parse. I wonder if Hawkins really knew his ending when he set out.

Certainly fun and a good example for its genre, but not particularly transcendent, with a few flat notes and some elements that don't make sense in reflection. Still a good read for those coming from Gaiman or Lovecraft.