The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount CharThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Being a librarian, I rarely buy books anymore just for me but every now and then one leaps out at me, circulates through my family, and then makes its new home in my library where I recommend it to my secondary school readers. The Library at Mount Char reminds me of….American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips and The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric….with the style of Tom Robbins in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Is it just me or is there an emerging genre of gods living among us?

I can barely tell you about the book without spoilers but let me say something about the most enticing bits ….the library is THE library containing all the knowledge in the world (including resurrections, for example. …there us unspeakable violence and the threat of an approaching apocalypse and our antihero Carolyn has to learn all this while living with her 11 adopted brothers and sisters who are each mastering their own catalogue and experimenting on each other. It takes sibling pranks to a whole new level.

I will recommend this book to any student in my library who I suspect lives a double-life or has their sights on anarchy.

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Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's GhostAnya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not surprising to me that Vera Brosgol, author/illustrator of Anya’s Ghost, has chosen Neil Gaiman’s critique to highlight on her front cover of this graphic novel. I can make a direct comparison between Gaiman’s character Coraline and Brosgol’s Anya who are both ordinary and unsuspecting in their quiet gothic existence. Both girls are pre-teen in age, excited and curious but not driven by hormones or a desire to rebel. Other than a few key shots of thigh, Anya is seemingly unaware of her blossoming sexuality. Even Anya’s secret cigarette habit seems more driven by anxiety than as a social tool to garner favour with her peers.
I particularly enjoyed the illustration of the ghost’s duplicity as it oscillates between good and evil in order to manipulate Anya. I was surprised by the story arch as the ghost reveals that not only is she using Anya but she has done this before to her own family. I particularly enjoyed how the ghost tries to compare herself to Anya by pointing out her selfish behaviour. I’m convinced that Anya isn’t sure what to do until the ghost tries to push her back into the giant hole. The book was deliciously suspenseful from beginning to end.

anya

If the ending had found Anya back in the hole, alone and afraid, then I would recommend this to a senior grade student. However, when everything works out alright and Anya grows in her appreciation of her family, friends and school life, I know that this graphic novel would be a good choice for junior students and older.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can see the official book trailer here:

http://www.schooltube.com/video/80480274511b452ca0ff/Anya’s%20Ghost%20by%20Vera%20Brosgol
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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American GodsAmerican Gods by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book doesn’t really fit into a genre … it takes place in present day in America. Our protagonist, Shadow, and the dysfunctional relationship with his wife certainly seem realistic. Enter the gods … and suddenly magic is happening everywhere in subtle ways. American Gods is filled with suspense, hints at history, and very descriptive. Imagine a Quentin Tarantino movie where magic is a part of every day life. There is something for everyone here…adventure, violence, fantasy, and even some heart-warming moments. This book would be a great choice for a senior student who is ready to move on from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but maybe isn’t quite ready for the Dune series. I think any adult who has tried magical realism, or who is interested in the world’s encyclopedia of gods and monsters (like all your D & D friends) would really like this book. I really enjoyed it although it took me a long time to read. Each chapter is like a bite of very rich chocolate cake. Gaiman is a wordmaster.

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