Review: The Library at Mount Char


  • Author: Scott Hawkins
  • ISBN: 9780553418606
  • Publisher: Crown Publishers
  • Genre: Dark Fantasy/Horror

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Library at Mount Char was not what I expected at all.  I’m not sure if that’s because the synopsis was misleading, or because I feel like this book belongs more in the Horror genre than Fantasy.   Either way, it’s less about the Library than it is about the main character’s quest for revenge.

Putting aside my disappointment at not reading a true Fantasy book, Scott Hawkins gets bonus points for grabbing my attention with the very first sentence, and keeping it up to the point where Erwin enters the story.  The author lost all of those bonus points with Erwin, who’s character is completely unbelievable and who’s actions are mostly implausible.  Why?  Erwin is supposed to be a Vietnam vet who retired as a Sergeant Major.  If you’ve ever served in the Army, you’ll quickly figure out that the author either didn’t do enough research or he exaggerated the already tall tales he heard from a soldier.  The only reason I’m willing to forgive Erwin’s existence is that the story itself is beyond the point of “out there”.  Think of the most bizarre story that Stephen King ever came up with, and you’re close to where The Library at Mount Char is on the scale of outlandishness.  Somehow, it works.

With the exception of the parts involving Erwin, my desire to continue reading this book never wavered.  I’m glad I forced my way through those parts because The Library at Mount Char is a solid three-star read.  I enjoyed it most of the time, and I’m likely to read the author’s future books.  While Scott Hawkins is no Stephen King, I can safely recommend this book to fans of the King of Horror.

#COYER Scavenger Hunt #49: Read a book that contains all the letters in the word BLUE.

0 thoughts on “Review: The Library at Mount Char

  1. Having no experience with the military myself, I had no idea that Erwin’s rank wasn’t realistic. I can see how this would be extremely distracting/disappointing to someone with a military background!

    I’m glad that, overall, it didn’t ruin your experience of the book. I think he wove such an original tale here. It’s funny, I feel like we had opposite reactions to the blurb, because I wasn’t drawn in by it but then ended up REALLY liking the direction the story took. Still, I get that it can be frustrating going in expecting one type of story and getting another.

    1. It wasn’t his rank that was unrealistic, but his entire character as that rank. For instance, soldiers in the Army do not ever call each other by their first names while on duty, and an NCO would never demand it. Sometimes the Air Force will do that, depending on where you’re at, but not the Army, and especially not a Sergeant Major. Another thing was tiny but had to do with shotguns, which have never been a standard or regularly issued firearm in the Army. I had to look that one up, though, to make sure shotguns weren’t used during the Vietnam war. They weren’t, and the information wasn’t difficult to find and verify.
      I think it bothered me more that the author didn’t do the research or fact-checking. Hollywood messes up and exaggerates what it’s like to be a soldier all the time, which is annoying enough as it is, but I expect writers to do a better job.

      1. Ack, yeah, that’s frustrating! Especially so since it seems like he did put a decent amount of work into the incorporation of various kinds of folklore and mythology where the catalogs were concerned.

  2. I enjoyed this book much more than I thought, but I will be the first to admit it is “out there.” It’s kind of scary to imagine how someone’s mind came up with such a concept. I really liked your review.

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