Audiobook Review: The Library at Mount Char

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The Library at Mount Char
By Scott Hawkins
Narrated by Hillary Huber
Ⓟ 2015, HighBridge Audio, a Division of Recorded Books
16 hrs and 48 mins
SFF, DARK FANTASY

The Library at Mount Char is a dark fantasy novel about Carolyn, one of twelve children adopted by Father, and trained in one of twelve catalogues or disciplines of knowledge. And let’s just say, this girl is great on long-range planning; and that she has a truly ambitious agenda… The clues as to what exactly she’s scheming about, and what her ultimate goals are, are the metaphorical crack that keeps the listener hooked. The library itself is a vast repository of knowledge that exists on a separate plane of existence; and Mount Char, the home in suburban America where the children were raised, serves as the nexus or portal through which the library can be accessed. The world-building is truly original and fantastic; and the story has elements of psychopathy, darkness, explosions that glitter and fascinate the listener. But there are subplots and scenes that don’t seem to advance the plot; and seemingly arbitrary symbolism and details that litter the narrative as well. The pace seems slow and the tension awkward; and  while many settings are vividly described, many of the children are not well defined or developed at all. The book ends, not quite with a cliff-hanger; but with a not-unreasonable expectation that there will be a sequel.  It is something different, shiny, weird, and inviting in the fantasy genre which seems to have become increasingly “Tolkien-esque ” or “GRR-Martinish”

If  Hillary Huber seems a just a shade too knowing for the role of Carolyn, she does an outstanding  job of creating a diverse range of characters without dropping into absurd caricature or false ranges. She handles the material expertly, imbuing the scenes perfectly and appropriately with tension, wonder, exasperation, triumph, uncertainty… whatever the writing calls for. Hillary Huber’s performance is masterful. The only production issue to note is that are a lot of sibilances (where the “S”s spike) that can hurt ears and force a listener off of headsets :-/

OTHER: I purchased The Library at Mount Char  (by Scott Hawkins; narrated by Hillary Huber) from Downpour.com. I receive no monies, goods (beyond the audiobook) or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

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