Book Review: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (ARC)

The Library at Mount Char by Scott HawkinsAuthor:  Scott Hawkins
Genre: Fantasy, Horror
Publisher: Crown
Publication Date: 6/16/15
388 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Crown for letting me read this!

I have no idea how to write this review. I have no idea what I read. I do know that I LOVED this book. I do know that I couldn’t put it down and I hated when I had to for work. I do know this book is completely nuts, insanely creative, seriously bizarre, and decidedly well-written. I know all of those things and yet I still have no idea what I read.

Do you ever request a book on Netgalley or buy one at the book store and think it sounds amazing but by the time you get to it, you’ve forgotten what it was about? That was me with The Library at Mount Char, so I went into it expecting nothing and I was completely blown away by it – not only because it’s super awesome but because it’s absolutely insane. Carolyn was a normal, American girl once, but when her parents (and the parents of the other children in her neighborhood) died, Father adopted them. They were each given a different catalog, a section of the Library (wait until you see the Library!!), to study – from languages (Carolyn’s catalog) to war to resurrection. They were not allowed to study outside of their own catalog. Now, Father is nowhere to be found. Will they be able to find him or will someone else gain control of the Library?

If that doesn’t sound absolutely fascinating to you, get out of my face. Haha. The world that Hawkins has created is intriguing, dark, horrible, and wonderful all at the same time. The Library at Mount Char is…disturbing yet full of humor, which is part of the reason I liked it. This is one of the weirdest books I’ve ever read. The “librarians” had it rough growing up with Father to put it mildly and there isn’t one of them that’s not a little off. They scared me and freaked me out and fascinated me. They murdered without reason, hurt others without emotion, destroyed without care. The last fourth of the novel was unputdownable for me. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen.

The bottom line: The Library at Mount Char is dark, disturbing, strange, scary, and absolutely wonderful. It’s not for everyone. But it was definitely for me.

Rating: 9 – Practically perfect

Book Review: The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the WellTitle: The Girl from the Well

Author: Rin Chupeco

Genre: Horror

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Hardback: 267 pages

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Let’s start with a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

A dead girl walks the streets.
She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.
And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.
Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

What I thought:

I am a huge fan of mythology and legends, always have been. I’ve always thought Japanese myths were particularly interesting. Their legends are complex, mysterious, and freaking creepy. There’s usually a horrible death, which makes these tales even scarier. This is why I wanted to read this book so much. It was also pitched as a mix between Dexter and The Grudge. Are you kidding? I had grabby hands for months. Even if you haven’t seen it, I’m sure most of you know what The Grudge is about or have seen the picture of the creepy girl with the long, stringy black hair. That’s Okiku, and she’s the narrator of The Girl from the Well.

So Okiku is our narrator. I enjoyed her narration and the writing style. She spoke formally, and she spells out words (it is instead of it’s). She also doesn’t call the other characters by their names at first; Tark, our main character other than Okiku, is “the boy” at first. But as Okiku gets to know Tark and his cousin Callie (“the young woman”), she starts to tell us about them by using their actual names. I thought it showed how she started to become more emotionally attached to these humans; very cool.

On the other hand, she was kind of boring. She’s supposed to be this super scary ghost enacting vengeance upon child killers. She hunts them and drowns them as she was drowned (I won’t go into Okiku’s myth here, but if you’re interested – which you should be – you can read more about her HERE). But this only happens about three times in the whole book. I really did enjoy Okiku’s development throughout the book; she starts to understand and empathize with humans, particularly Tark and Callie. But I think this happened too quickly and we didn’t get enough time with her as the terrifying ghost she’s supposed to be. I thought her development and growth was well-done, but it made her no longer scary pretty quickly in the story.

I liked Tark and Callie, but I don’t think their backstory was developed enough, especially Callie’s. We do learn a little about Tark and how he came to be possessed by a powerful spirit, but I could have used a lot more info because I think it would have been fascinating. Tark was probably my favorite character. He had this horrible thing done to him, but he isn’t a complainer. He doesn’t bother anyone else with his issues and keeps to himself. But he’s funny, smart, and independent.

I do want to say that as much as I liked the horror in this book (and trust me, parts of it were truly, truly scary – especially the first time we see Okiku enact her vengeance), some of it felt super cheesy. Like low-budget, B movie horror. I almost laughed a few times. Like I said, some of it was actually really creepy and made it so that it was hard to go to sleep, but other parts were just SO cheesy.

I won’t give anything away, but I really liked the end.

The bottom line: Creepy, psychological, horrifying, and surprisingly enlightening. Sometimes it was seriously scary, but other times it was almost laughingly cheesy. For fans of horror and mythology.

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Reading next: The Truth about Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Book Review: Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Through the Woods coverThis was my first book for Bout of Books 11.

I’d seen this book floating around the book blogosphere a little bit, but when it came across the circulation desk at the library where I work, I was blown away by how freaking pretty it was! Don’t hate me, but I didn’t even let this one go out into the stacks before I checked it out.

This book is made up of five illustrated short stories, all of which were creepy, mysterious, and spine-chillingly awesome. I flew through the entire book in about 45 minutes. I just couldn’t put it down.

‘It came from the woods. Most strange things do.’

This is one of the creepiest, most terrifying, and absolutely gorgeous books I’ve read. It pulled me in from the introduction and didn’t let me go until I turned the last page.

Mini reviews of the five stories:

Our Neighbor’s House

Three girls are left home alone when their father goes hunting. But when he doesn’t return, things start to go bad. This story gave me the creeps, in a good way. I thought the ending was seriously cool, and I got me in the mood for the rest of the book.

A Lady’s Hands are Cold

Oh, man. This story is about a newly married couple. The new wife starts to hear voices and we get some seriously amazing illustrations that were just beautiful. The story and the illustrations went hand in hand to create one of my favorite stories in the book.


His Face All Red

Two brothers go out into the woods to find and kill a monster that’s been attacking their town. It’s kind of hard to talk about this one too much without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that this story was great: terrifying and chilling with illustrations that kept me engaged.

My Friend Janna

Two friends pretend that one of them can speak to ghosts, but all their tricks come back to haunt them. This one was pretty darn good and haunting. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but it was probably my least favorite of the five, even though I still liked it a lot.

The Nesting Place

Wooooo. This one was my favorite out of the five. Man, this one was so scary, a perfect horror story. A girl remembers her mother telling her ghost stories about monsters with rings of teeth. When she goes to visit her brother and his new fiancé, hoooweee, things get freaking crazy and scary and frightening. Holy crap, you guys.

So if you couldn’t tell, I really liked this one. The illustrations were incredible and they matched the tone of the stories perfectly. The stories and the words worked together to create the feel of the book, and I actually felt myself get chills a few times. I would recommend this to anyone who likes comics, anyone who likes horror, anyone who likes to get a little creeped out, and anyone who just liked a good story. Check this one out for sure.

Rating: 9 – practically perfect

Publication info:

Through the Woods

Written and illustrated by Emily Carroll

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books; July 2014

208 pages (paperback)