Book Review

The Library Of The Dead

The Library of the Dead

  • Author: T.L. Huchu
  • Genre: Urban Fantasy
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2021
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • Series: Edinburgh Nights #1

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advance copy of this book. I am providing my honest opinion voluntarily.

CONTENT WARNING: death of a child, suicide, alcoholism, kidnapping, confinement, slavery, mutilation, death, murder 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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.

So this book took me a couple of chapters to get accustomed to, but once I did, I was in it for the long haul, and raced through this story in basically a single sitting. 

It takes place in an alternate version of Edinburgh. There’s some references to some type of catastrophe, and there’s some elements of dystopia in the story, leaving Ropa, the MC, in a tough living situation. She is basically the breadwinner of her family, at 14, responsible for caring for her younger sister and sick grandmother, by relaying messages between the dead and the living. She sticks to her strict moral code, although her lifestyle exposes her to some dangers. And when she finds herself on the case of a missing child, it puts her in even more danger.

Ropa herself is an interesting character. She’s very young, but the lifestyle she lives makes her seem a lot older. Her snarky, cynical personality, devotion to her family and friends, and intense focus on bettering herself even though she had to drop out of school all combine to create an intensely likable character. It was so interesting to read about how her mind worked and how she never gave up, even when the odds seemed insurmountable. She was definitely the kind of underdog that I love to root for. 

The book is more character-driven than plot-driven, and it seemed like the story meandered a bit, but it was still enjoyable. While I’m not generally a huge fan of character-driven stories, it really depends on the character driving the story. When it’s someone that I really like, I don’t mind, and Ropa’s character was enjoyable enough that I liked following her story. 

As far as the library itself, I’m intrigued by what goes on there. I would have liked to learn more about that, and Ropa’s journey further into the magical arts. I am absolutely looking forward to reading more of this series as soon as it’s available! 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 9

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