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Happy Friday to my favourite ghosties, spooks and PSL-lovers! Today’s review is one for all my fellow spooky season fanatics. It has ghosts, a teen who can talk to the dead, magic, monsters and missing children. Does that tick any boxes for you? Yes? Well then, read on for all the deets. The book I’m talking about is, of course, The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu.
Many thanks to Black Crow PR and Tor for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are entirely my own.
The Library of the Dead
by T. L. Huchu
Date of Publication: 14th October 2021
Format: Paperback (336 pages)
When ghosts talk, she will listen . . .
Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghostalker – 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?
- Harm to children (including child abduction)
- Body horror (references of blood, gore and violence/torture)
About the Author
T. L. Huchu (he/him) has been published previously (as Tendai Huchu) in the adult market, but the Edinburgh Nights series is his genre fiction debut. His previous books (The Hairdresser of Harare and The Maestro, The Magistrate and the Mathematician) have been translated into multiple languages and his short fiction has won awards. Tendai grew up in Zimbabwe but has lived in Edinburgh for most of his adult life.
Sometimes when you open a book and start to read, you just know that you’re going to love that book. My experience with The Library of the Dead was like that. I knew immediately that this book spoke to me. Unfortunately, our household was sick which made it VERY difficult to commit my full attention to ANYTHING. But I got there in the end and wow. It is phenomenal. If you’re into urban fantasy with strong paranormal elements (i.e. ghosts) then you NEED to pick up this book ASAP.
Huchu brings to the table a very interesting setting. The Edinburgh within its pages exists after a time of political unrest so it’s a bit dystopian. Crime is rife and while there is a police presence, they’re definitely NOT there to serve and protect. In many ways, it felt like a step backwards in time and it wasn’t until Ropa would listen to a podcast that I’d be reminded that this isn’t set in the past. I thought that was done really well.
Ropa was a fantastic lead. I connected with her spunkiness immediately. This is a young woman with incredibly strong wills. Her family means everything to her and her main priority is keeping them safe and financially secure. It was really easy to root for her and I can’t wait to see where the series takes us.
One other thing that really stood out to me was that this is a real genre-bend. Again, it’s fantasy with strong dystopian vibes but it also has a mystery at the heart of it and a healthy helping of horror elements too. It was the perfect combination of all the things I love about reading – including a fun and dynamic but equally human and vulnerable cast of characters, a pinch of magic, a LIBRARY and a deeply compelling story. (And if animal sidekicks are your kind of thing, Ropa’s is a fox.) Overall, I think this book and series will appeal to a very wide range of readers.
I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments* (AFFILIATE), which sounds equally amazing. Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments is out in March 2022 but you can pick up The Library of the Dead immediately and I strongly recommend that you do because it’s so good.
Will you be bumping this one to the top of your TBR pile? Let me know in the comments below!