The Library at Mount Char

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The Library at Mount Char

 
 

 A missing God.
A library with the secrets to the universe. 
A woman too busy to notice her heart slipping away.
 
Carolyn’s not so different from the other people around her. She likes guacamole and cigarettes and steak. She knows how to use a phone. Clothes are a bit tricky, but everyone says nice things about her outfit with the Christmas sweater over the gold bicycle shorts.  

After all, she was a normal American herself once.   

That was a long time ago, of course. Before her parents died. Before she and the others were taken in by the man they called Father. 

In the years since then, Carolyn hasn’t had a chance to get out much. Instead, she and her adopted siblings have been raised according to Father’s ancient customs. They’ve studied the books in his Library and learned some of the secrets of his power. And sometimes, they’ve wondered if their cruel tutor might secretly be God.  

Now, Father is missing—perhaps even dead—and the Library that holds his secrets stands unguarded. And with it, control over all of creation. 

As Carolyn gathers the tools she needs for the battle to come, fierce competitors for this prize align against her, all of them with powers that far exceed her own. 

But Carolyn has accounted for this. 

And Carolyn has a plan. 

The only trouble is that in the war to make a new God, she’s forgotten to protect the things that make her human.

Populated by an unforgettable cast of characters and propelled by a plot that will shock you again and again, The Library at Mount Char is at once horrifying and hilarious, mind-blowingly alien and heartbreakingly human, sweepingly visionary and nail-bitingly thrilling—and signals the arrival of a major new voice in fantasy.

 
Chapter 1 
 
Sunrise
Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret. She was smiling.
Cars were scarce but not unheard-of on this road. Over the course of her night’s walk she had seen five of them. The one braking to a halt now, a battered Ford F-250, was the third that had stopped to take a closer look. The driver pulled to the opposite shoulder, gravel crunching, and idled there. When the window came down she smelled chewing tobacco, old grease, and hay. A white-haired man sat behind the wheel. Next to him, a German shepherd eyed her suspiciously from the passenger seat. Ahhh, crap. She didn’t want to hurt them. “Jesus,” he said. “Was there an accident?” His voice was warm with concern—the real kind, not the predator’s fake that the last man had tried. She heard this and knew the old man was seeing her as a father might see his daughter. She relaxed a little.
“Nope,” she said, eyeing the dog. “Nothing like that. Just a mess at the barn. One of the horses.” There was no barn, no horse. But she knew from the smell of the man that he would be sympathetic to animals, and that he would understand their business could be bloody. “Rough delivery, for me and for her.” She smiled ruefully and held her hands to frame her torso, the green silk now black and stiff with Detective Miner’s blood. “I ruined my dress.” “Try a little club sody,” the man said dryly. The dog growled a little. “Hush up, Buddy.” She wasn’t clear on what “club sody” was, but she could tell from his tone that this was a joke. Not the laugh-out-loud sort, the commiserating sort. She snorted. “I’ll do that.” “The horse OK?” Real concern again. “Yeah, she’s fine. The colt, too. Long night, though. Just taking a walk to clear my head.” “Barefoot?”
She shrugged. “They grow ’em tough around here.” This part was true. “You want a lift?” “Nah. Thanks, though. My Father’s place is over that way, not far.” That was true too. “Which, over by the post office?”
“It’s in Garrison Oaks.” The old man’s eyes went distant for a moment, trying to remember how he knew that name. He thought about it for a while, then gave up. Carolyn might have told him that he could drive by Garrison Oaks four times a day every day for a thousand years and still not remember it, but she didn’t. “Ohhh…” the old guy said vaguely. “Right.” He glanced at her legs in a way that wasn’t particularly fatherly. “Sure you don’t want a lift? Buddy don’t mind, do ya?” He patted the fat dog in the seat next to him. Buddy only watched, his brown eyes feral and suspicious.
“I’m good. Still clearing my head. Thanks, though.” She stretched her face into something like a smile. “Sure thing.” The old man put his truck into gear and drove on, bathing her in a warm cloud of diesel fumes.
She stood watching until his taillights disappeared around a curve. That’s enough socializing for one night, I think. She scrambled up the bluff and slipped into the woods. The moon was still up, still full. Americans called this time of year “October” or, sometimes, “Autumn,” but the librarians reckoned time by the heavens. Tonight was the seventh moon, which is the moon of black lament. Under its light the shadows of bare branches flashed across her scars.
A mile or so later she came to the hollow tree where she had stashed her robe. She shook the bark out of it and picked it clean as best she could. She saved a scrap of the bloody dress for David and tossed the rest, then wrapped herself in the robe, pulling the hood over her head. She had been fond of the dress—silk felt good—but the rough cotton of the robe comforted her. It was familiar, and all she really cared to know of clothing. She set out deeper into the forest.forest. The stones under the leaves and pine straw felt right against the soles of her feet, scratching an itch she hadn’t known she felt. Just around the next ridge, she thought. Garrison Oaks. She wanted to burn the whole place to ashes but, at the same time, it would be kind of nice to see it again. Home…….
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Author

Scott Hawkins