Scott Hawkins “The Library at Mount Char” (Crown, 2015)
Well this was nothing like I expected. For some reason I thought it would be more than a bit more Harry Potter/The Magicians. Kids in a magical library, some conflict, etc. (but it’s really all about the world building). Imagine my surprise when the books opens with brutal unflinching violence and an amoral protagonist. I almost quit. I didn’t, and I am SO GLAD.
So yes, this is a brutal book. Graphic descriptions of violent actions. Our protagonist, Carolyn, is not a nice person.
But if you stick with it, it does make sense. There’s a reason why she’s so immoral. None of this is gratuitous.
What you end up with is an amazing piece of contemporary fantasy. Hawkins creates a singular story and world that are absolutely worth experiencing.
I’ve read lots of comparisons – Gaiman, Hill, etc. My favorite comparison is Robert Bennett. It’s a dark fantasy that builds upon modern America. Highly recommended.