Title: The Library of The Dead
Author: T. L. Huchu
Series: Edinburgh Night’s
Release Date: 4/2/2021
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 57
(see below for breakdown)
I received a free ARC copy from UK Tor via Black Crow PR in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
When ghosts talk, she will listen . . .
Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghost talker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.
She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?
Opening up a world of magic and adventure, The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu is the first book in the Edinburgh Nights series.
I had predicted this was going to be a 5 star read for me back when it was first announced. I knew I had to get my hands on an ARC as I just had to have this book in my world sooner rather than later and I was not mistaken. I am even tempted to put down my TBR and re-read it right not (I might pick up the audio – no joke). I loved it, here is why….
Firstly, I love the setting. I will preface that while I grew up in Glasgow, Edinburgh is my home. I spent a lot of my teenage years hanging out with various groups of friends from varying economically diverse areas of the city so to launch into a book where the teenage protagonist is prowling the same streets as I did at her age was both nostalgic and fun to read. It isn’t a book set in the Edinburgh that most know. We are not down in the Grass market or up on the Castle esplanade, we are in the Western suburbs, the areas where locals out number tourists and it’s nice that those areas get recognition.
I love how Huchu reveals that this is a dystopian version of Edinburgh. Through subtle use of language we learn that a cataclysm happened, when we do enter the city centre we learn it isn’t as it looks currently, it isn’t the tourist hub any more, I love these little subtle changes and introduction to this world. The mystery plot takes us through all different areas of Edinburgh, where we learn a little more each time. I can’t wait to find out more about what happened and some more of the events that led to Ropa’s Edinburgh.
Speaking of Ropa, she is such a kick ass main character, smart and witty but also willing to admit fault as well as being loving and generous. She was just a delight to read about. Her ability to Ghost talk is really interesting, the musical elements and use of mbira gave such strong imagery. Then as she starts to learn other forms of Magic, which are Science based !!!! – we know I love a good Newton’s laws based magic system.. While, we don’t dive straight into the training montages in this one it left an exciting open door for all kinds of magical elements. We only just got a glimpse of the Library but it had sooo much going on from it’s interesting construction, entrances and choice of membership ‘cards’ to all the potential it holds for future adventures. I want to go back and visit (I can also see its location from my house which doesn’t help as I really want to explore more).
All the characters have depth to them, even those on the spectral plane. I loved Riba’s family, especially her little sister, she had such a sass to her that only small kids can. Her Gran was also fantastic, with that weight of wisdom only a women of her age can have. I loved Riba’s friends too, especially Priya a wheelchair using magical healer that Riba met in the library. Priya was such a Boss, a wicked sense of humour and a real spark of joy. I want more adventures with Priya.
The plot itself was fun and fast paced with some dark and gruesome elements. It does read a little more YA as Ropa is 14 but I can see the series getting darker as we grow and learn more about Ropa’s world. I really just need book two now.