The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu – Review

Published: June 1, 2021 (US)

Publisher: Tor Books

Series: Edinburgh Nights #1

Genre: Fantasy

Pages: 336 (Hardcover)

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu’s The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

When a child goes missing in Edinburgh’s darkest streets, young Ropa investigates. She’ll need to call on Zimbabwean magic as well as her Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. But as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

When ghosts talk, she will listen…

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker. Now she 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 honor-bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan…), discovering an occult library and a taste for hidden magic. She’ll also experience dark times. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets, and Ropa’s gonna hunt them all down.


The synopsis of this book immediately caught my attention and quite frankly it hasn’t let go since! I started this book Saturday,  expecting it to take several days to finish up but dang. It was so good I finished it Sunday morning! It’s a wild ride, throwing you into this strange world where talking to the dead and delivering their messages (for a fee of course) is fairly standard practice. It takes a little time to orient oneself and even then, some of the slang used was a bit confusing, but it didn’t detract from the story. I just found myself going ??? occasionally.

The story stars Ropa, a girl who speaks to ghosts and carries messages to those they’ve left behind. Ropa is quite the character, literally and figuratively but while her exterior may catch some off guard, she’s clearly a loving, good person who takes care of those near and dear to her. She lives with her little sister and elderly grandmother and the money she brings in carrying the messages of the dead pays for their lot fee, her grandmother’s medicines, and other such necessities. Ropa’s need to keep her family housed and cared for drives her to work long nights and she doesn’t do charity work for the spirits of the dead, that’s for damn sure. Until one such plea for help continues to tug at her conscience and when she speaks to her grandmother about it, she encourages Ropa to check it out.  Thus begins her quest to find out who is kidnapping children, sucking the youth from them, and leaving their sad little husks wandering about the city. 

The characters in this story are so vibrant and fascinating – not just Ropa, but her family and friends, and those she meets along the way. This story is by turns phenomenally dark, highlighting the terrible things people can inflict upon others, and hopeful, showing the good people can do for others. The fantastical elements in this story just enrich an already interesting alternate version of Edinburgh, where something terrible happened in the not too distant past. The vague mysteriousness of it all kept me reading nearly as much as the main plot! Then there’s the titular Library of the Dead… which wasn’t nearly as big a feature as I thought it would be, though it almost certainly will play a larger role in future books which I am VERY EXCITED for.

I really just couldn’t’ put this book down, which surprised me because it sort of just came out of nowhere – this amazing book had such little marketing (that I saw) but it deserved so much more! So I’ll be the marketing – it was amazing! Go read it and immerse yourself in this dark, forlorn Scottish cityscape filled with the paranormal! Also, there is a hugely creepy house and I might be forever traumatized by those chapters, I mean WTF WAS THAT! It was awesome, but I’m still thinking about how disturbing that was…

Currently Reading: 5/31/21

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
I am LOVING this book so far! I picked it up over the weekend and have already devoured a few hundred pages. The setting is interesting – it seems a little post-apocalyptic almost? Something big clearly happened in the past but it’s only been referred to vaguely so far. Can’t wait to see where this story goes!

Stacking the Shelves: 3/6/21

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly (or in my case monthly) meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and it’s all about sharing the books you’ve added to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. You can include books you buy in a physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!


Received for Review:

The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri
A maidservant with forbidden magic and a captive princess team up and presumably upset the balance of the whole world. I’ve been looking forward to a new book from Tasha Suri! Thanks to Orbit for the eARC!

Seven Deaths of an Empire by G.R. Matthews
New grimdark fantasy with an awesome cover. That’s really all I needed to know, but the synopsis did sounds pretty cool – a general, a mage, and seven deaths? I’m going to pick this up mostly blind – just thought it looked cool! Thanks to Solaris for the eARC.

The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu
Zimbabwean magic in Edinburgh, bewitched children, and an occult library made this an irresistible temptation! Thanks to Tor for the eARC.

Mastermind by Andrew Mayne
I honestly did not expect a return to the character of Theo Cray… but here we are and I’m so here for it! It looks like Theo will be teaming up with Jessica Blackwood (from another Andrew Mayne series???) for an adventure that seems to lean a little more supernatural than mundane. Thanks to Thomas & Mercer for the eARC.

Sirgrus Blackmane Demihuman Gumshoe and Dark-Elf by William Schlichter
This sounds completely amazing! Set during the Prohibition, a dwarf detective must investigate a string of murders and find the killer before he’s next. This is quite short, with only 220 pages and sounds like quite the adventure! Thanks to BHC Press for the eARC.

My Purchases:

My recent audio purchases are quite the varied lot. Obviously I couldn’t resist A Court of Silver Flames and I can’t wait to share my review – it’s going to be a fun one to write! I also picked up the YA scifi Aurora Rising and most recently The Alienist. 

Decided to treat myself to a few hobby-related (cooking and plants/botany) books. I am really enjoying The Drunken Botanist and find it an informative yet pleasurable to read book with lots of fun facts and even recipes. I haven’t really checked out The Flavor Equation or Plants that Kill yet, but will soon!