The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount Char

23363928 “The Library at Mount Char” by Scott Hawkins

Synopsis: Carolyn’s not so different from the other human beings around her. She’s sure of it. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. She even remembers what clothes are for.
After all, she was a normal American herself, once.
That was a long time ago, of course—before the time she calls “adoption day,” when she and a dozen other children found themselves being raised by a man they learned to call Father.
Father could do strange things. He could call light from darkness. Sometimes he raised the dead. And when he was disobeyed, the consequences were terrible.
In the years since Father took her in, Carolyn hasn’t gotten out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient Pelapi customs. They’ve studied the books in his library and learned some of the secrets behind his equally ancient power.
Sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.
Now, Father is missing. And if God truly is dead, the only thing that matters is who will inherit his library—and with it, power over all of creation.
As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her.
But Carolyn can win. She’s sure of it. What she doesn’t realize is that her victory may come at an unacceptable price—because in becoming a God, she’s forgotten a great deal about being human.

*******

5 out of 5 stars

Well, crap. I haven’t the faintest idea of how to begin to review this book.

I don’t suppose I can leave it at, “It’s amazing, go read it immediately.”

I’m going to start with what I liked most about this book.

The world building is fantastic. To create an entire new world, new mythos, new philosophy in one book is hard and it’s exceptionally well done here. This falls into the fantasy genre quite simply because there is no where else to put it. Fantasy, sci-fi, historical, dystopian, horror, speculative – I think it fits all those genres.

Carolyn is our main character in this book but many of the other characters get equal play. Parts of the book are disturbing, parts are laugh out loud hilarious (remind me that in real life I can’t bitch-slap a lion). She goes through quite the metamorphosis through the story and it’s wonderful to read her development.

The character development is well thought out. There doesn’t seem to be much thought given to them at first, and then you find that you are incredibly invested in everyone in the book.

There is a lot of gore in this book. Descriptions of killing and of torture and of abuse. Somehow it makes sense that it’s here and necessary to the story. It’s violent but not gratuitous.

The one thing I didn’t like was that it took me a good 50 pages to really get hooked by this book. Normally I give up very quickly, but I am so glad I stuck with this one. I know I keep saying amazing but I don’t have any other words for this.

Again, I have no idea how to review “Library”. I don’t know where it fits, who should read it, and how to think about it. I just know I loved it and will definitely reread in the future.

The cover is …

… wait for it …

… amazing.

 

 

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The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices

2267010 “The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Sixteen Original Works by Speculative Fiction’s Finest Voices” Edited by Ellen Datlow
Synopsis: With original stories by Jeffrey Ford, Pat Cadigan, Elizabeth Bear, Margo Lanagan, and others.
From Del Rey Books and award-winning editor Ellen Datlow, two of the most respected names in science fiction and fantasy, comes a collection of fifteen all-new short stories, plus a science fiction novella, that could count as a virtual “best of the year” anthology. Here you will find slyly twisted alternate histories, fractured fairy tales, topical science fiction, and edgy urban fantasy.

*****

2 out of 5 stars

The Book: Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Ellen Datlow. I’ve never given a second thought to picking up anything she has edited as I know it will be an enjoyable read. She edits anthologies and short story collections which I love. This is a collection billed as science fiction and fantasy written by speculative fiction writers.

It is pure speculative fiction in my opinion, which is fine but not what I was expecting. This may have been one of the reason I didn’t really like this book. While I do enjoy being surprised when a story being something other than what I thought it was, speculative fiction takes a bit of work to read and often seems to make no sense. It kind of goes in the WTF category when sci-fi, fantasy, and horror don’t fit.

I was disappointed with this book for one main reason – I did not like the stories. Period. It was a struggle getting through the entire thing and the one story I did like somewhat was the last one.

What I liked: The story I liked was called Prisoners of the Action by Paul J. McAuley and Kim Newman. The story takes place after an alien invasion when much of the world has been decimated by the alien attack. The POTAs as they are called, are kept in a kind of Guantanamo Bay facility. A lawyer is called in to investigate accusations of abuse against the creatures. No one knows what they are exactly. The POTAs are described as blue round blobs stacked in threes, like a snow man would be stacked. They have no obvious organs or apertures other than a small opening filled with what looks like stones.

The lawyer witnesses what could be torture but it’s hard to tell as the POTAs don’t react in the way they are expected to. The cast of characters includes a Bible thumping preacher and his Christian Rock singing daughter, a hip hop scientist and our befuddled lawyer. And the POTAs which could be aliens or just blue blobs.

What I didn’t like: The rest of the book I skimmed, I’ll be honest. I didn’t connect with any of the other stories and they left me cold.

I’m not giving up on Datlow, but I think I’ll be a little more cautious going forward. I have five more of her anthologies queued up and I hope they are as good as her other work.

Speculative Lesbian Fiction

Speculative Lesbian Fiction

Now here’s a new genre for me! Speculative fiction is defined as, “a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.” Lesbian speculative fiction is exactly what you think it would be and I’ve never knowingly come across it before.

22557981  “Heiresses of Russ” edited by Melissa Scott and Steve Berman.

This is the fourth annual anthology and after reading about half of the book, I will be making a point to find and read the others. It’s a collection of short stories and very diverse in the subject matter. The main subject being love in all it’s many shapes and forms.

I feel like I need to seek out more lesbian authors. Because I read so indiscriminately, I’m often not aware of the author of a book unless it’s part of a series or I have specifically chosen the book based on the author. I read what appeals to me, what sounds interesting, what might challenge me and open my mind a little and make me see something a different way.

Most of my reading is fiction. I was accused once, a long time ago, of reading as an escape and I suppose that’s true but not in the way they meant. I read as an escape, yes, as that’s the easiest and cheapest high I can get. As an escape to visit the places I will never go and meet the people I will never meet. It’s an escape for me to learn new things that I otherwise would never learn and see the world through someone else’s eyes.