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Title: The Library of the Dead
Author: T.L. Huchu
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Urban SFF | Paranormal | Mystery
Publication Date: June 1st 2021
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“Will you take another message through to them?”
“That’ll be billable,” I say.
You must be upfront with the charges. That way no one gets messed about.
I’ve met guys like Bob before.Ropa
The ones who linger for a bit, not seeking closure, but because they can’t handle change.
They prefer stasis to progress.
The Library of the Dead 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 Library of the Dead Review
The Library of the Dead is the first novel in the Edinburgh Nights. This novel is set in Edinburgh (duh!) and it takes on a very dystopian, near-future, urban SFF theme. I would probably place this as more speculative fiction than dystopian, but it does talk about a catastrophe It follows the nearly 15 year old Ropa as she works as a ghosttalker to support her elderly grandmother and younger sister, Izwi. While Ropa is earning her cash to afford the lease of the ground her family’s caravan is at, her grandmother’s medication, and all the food and supplies they need to survive, she encounters a ghost who begs her to look into the disappearance of her son so that she can rest in peace. When Ropa finally decides to look into it, she finds a mystery that it seems only she is determined to find out; children disappearing without a trace, a new drug, her magic, and a mysterious library her friend now works at…
Ropa is quite the character. She has so much responsibility thrust on her young shoulders and she takes that responsibility very seriously. Looking out for herself and her family before anyone else. She’s not the one you would ask to help you out of the goodness of her heart. She’ll help you, but she expects to be paid for her trouble. She does have a secret heart of gold though. She puts her sister and grandmother ahead of herself, and as she grows, she looks beyond what she can be paid for a job. She is a strong character with lots of sarcasm and pure logical thought; that being said, she does have flaws and faults and is not one of those strong heroines that can do no wrong.
Huchu does a great job in the writing once the story gets going. It took a few chapters to immerse into the book completely. He mixes the cultures of Ropa’s heritage and other character’s heritage so well. I also really appreciate the science aspect of magic. Writing magic with a scientific feel could definitely feel wrong, but in this case it’s woven so well that it feels right. Once the story gets going, the plot takes a more of a thriller/suspense type feel. There is a lot of mystery and tension as Ropa discovers more of what going on. I definitely enjoyed the novel and am looking forward to the next novel in the Edinburgh Nights series. This book is definitely for those fans of speculative fiction, dystopian novels, gothic vibes, or for those readers who like to read books that embrace a number of genres.
I would like to thank NetGalley and publisher, Tor Books for sending me a free copy for my fair and honest review.
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About T.L. Huchu
T.L. Huchu is a writer whose short fiction has appeared in publications such as Lightspeed Interzone, AfroSF and elsewhere. He is the winner of a Nommo Award for African speculative fiction, and has been short-listed for the Caine Prize and the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. Between projects, he translates fiction from Shona into English and the reverse.
Edinburgh Nights Series
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