I Read Horror? “The Library At Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins



I read The Library At Mount Char and it was…a time.

But before we get into my thoughts on it, let me preface them by saying that The Library At Mount Char is not a bad book. Really, it’s not.

Alrighty, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about it.

This was Spooky Season book attempt #2 (here’s # 1, in case you missed it).

I was looking for a story that would scare the daylights out of me, and this one seemed like a good fit after I saw it mentioned on one of those “Scariest Books” lists.

In the Library At Mount Char, we follow Carolyn, one of 12 siblings who live with Father in his curious Library.

But there’s a problem: no one has seen or heard from him in far longer than normal. Now, they’re beginning to worry.

So Carolyn takes it upon herself to figure out just what’s going on.

About My Reading Experience

The Library at Mount Char plops you right into the world from page one. Not going to lie, it was disorienting. There are things that make well-enough sense but also things that don’t.

By page 75, I’d gained my composure, mostly.

One of the first things I noticed was the writing. It’s very tight, beige prose, so, nary a wasted word, but thick, like peanut butter in your mouth. This is not the type of story you can fly through (well, I couldn’t anyway), though it’s not Shakespearean either.

By page 50, I was able to settle into a reading-rhythm that worked with the writing.

I read the rising action with curiosity, intrigue, and a slight confusion, and was really into the story. Then, just before the climax, it all went to shit.

And just like fog when the sun rises, my intrigue, and my interest, dissipated.

From there, I hobbled to the end.

Alexa, play “I Just Want It To Be Over” by Keyshia Cole.


Which brings me to my biggest issue with this book: the narrative structure.

(Now, narrative structure is not typically a spoiler, but in this case I believe it is. So, if you do not want to know the details of said structure, scroll past the gray background.

Final notice.)

I loathe, looaatthhee, the narrative structure that feeds us partial plot details (though the narrator knows full well the entire scope of said events), only to be like “Aha! Here’s what was ACTUALLY going on. Head faked ya!”, at the end.

Think “Gone Girl” (never read the book, going by the movie, here).

It loses me.

Every. Flipping. Time.

Alexa, now play “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” by The BackStreet Boys.

Other than that, which is a huge THAT, this story was decent, despite falling apart near the 45% mark and struggling to find it’s footing again, which it eventually does around the 70% mark.

It just got too choppy for me, structurally.

But when it finds its footing again: it really does. I mean, that twist clobbered me, and almost made me care again.


Overall, The Library At Mount Char is an unusual story, with strange characters. Carolyn’s journey was interesting and it fascinated me.

Doubling Back

Which brings us back to my original question: was this the spine-tingling Spooky Season read I was looking for?

Let’s just say that I’m 0 for 2.

I would categorize The Library At Mount Char mainly as a Contemporary Dark Fantasy, with a bit of mystery and suspense, instead of as a straight up Horror. It is definitely dark and harrowing in some parts but scare me, this did not.

I’d say it’s worth a read.

Oh, one more thing-

Content Warning for just about everything under the sun. I’ll list them in the post-script, in case you’d rather not know.

All the Best,

*(CW below)

P.S. CW for SA, Violence, Animal Death, Abuse, Kidnapping, Death, Suicide, and possible others.