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Title: Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments (#2 Edinburgh Nights)

Author: T.L. Huchu

Published: 3rd of March 2022 – UK Tor

Format: Hardcover (courtesy of UK Tor/Black Crow) – 368 pages


Hello Hello! How are you all?

Popping back onto the blog since what feels like forever to bring you a review of a book I read not for a blog tour or for university, but for myself, WHOOO!! (Of course, I love taking part in blog tours, but sometimes it is nice to read something from your owned TBR).

I was so lucky to be sent a finished copy of Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu by Stephen Haskings, Black Crow and UK Tor, so thank you so so much to them, I am so grateful. When I saw the email for this book, I jumped on it because I had enjoyed The Library of the Dead (book 1) so much, and I couldn’t wait to continue the series. You can read all my thoughts on the first instalment in the Edinburgh Nights series in my review here.

Thank you once again for my beautiful copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Without further ado and waffling, here are my thoughts (mini-review style as I don’t want to include spoilers for book 1), on this great second book!

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS

Some secrets are meant to stay buried.

When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.

Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.

Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

MY REVIEW

Trigger warnings: graphic death, violence, swearing, blackmail/threats of violence, poverty, ghosts, people in comas, injuries, dead people/bodies.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T.L. Huchu is the second instalment in the urban fantasy mystery Edinburgh Nights series which I discovered last year thanks to being approved for The Library of the Dead (book 1) on NetGalley. When I finished that book, I knew straight away I would want to read the second book as soon as it was published, and I was positively giddy when I received OLOMA in my postbox at the end of February.

Once again, thank you so much to Stephen, Black Crow and UK Tor for my beautiful finished copy. I would have had the review up for the publication date (03.03.22), but I was overwhelmed with university and work, so it took me a while to get through this one. Even though it took me over a month to read it, I definitely savoured it and enjoyed it all the more for taking my time instead of rushing through, especially since I weirdly struggled to get into the first 50 pages or so. Once I had remembered who all the characters were and the context, I was loving it just like the first book.

This one leaves off straight where The Library of the Dead ended – if you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for? It’s amazing. Where The Library of the Dead was VERY supernatural with ghosts and the everyThere (where souls get stuck when they die), OLOMA was very different, which is, I think, the reason why it took me a while to get into it. I had gotten so used to the really weird things happening in book 1, that I was a bit confused starting this book as it just didn’t feel the same. However, once I got into it, I was loving it, and I think I enjoyed it even more than book 1 once I reached the middle.

In this instalment, Ropa is an intern for Callander in the Society, but she is also drafted by her mate Priya into Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments (the medical facility for all things supernatural and unexplainable) to try to figure out why some kids are in a strange coma and nothing will cure them. It took me a while to get back into this series as there is a LOT of magic and science talk which went over my head a little since it had been over a year since I read the first book, and I have been reading the Rivers of London series which has a similar type of magic system but is also 100% different and unique to this one. So it took a little getting used to and remembering how Ropa talked and acted, which jarred me a tad, to begin with, but once I had gotten back into the swing of things it was all a blast and such a fun romp.

I love this world, this Edinburgh after a catastrophe that we still don’t know much about, where magic and practitioners are just hidden below the surface of a country in uproar and bending under the hand of their sovereign. I feel like this is such a unique setting, context and world, and I like that it isn’t all clean-cut, that we don’t know everything about it, what happened to make it the way it is and all the other political intricacies which I’m sure we will learn about slowly as this series progresses. I also have really gotten into urban fantasy since starting the River of London series by Ben Aaronovitch, and I can definitely recommend these two authors as starting points if you want to read more from this genre.

I also am so fascinated by the magic system which relies a lot on science and which is also intertwined with Ropa’s family magic which is not at all recognised by the Society, but is just as valid and interesting in my opinion. I adore reading books with UNIQUE magic systems as this one is definitely up there with the best. I just adore it, even when it does go over my head a little bit ahah. (My fault, I should have probably reread The Library of the Dead to remind myself a bit beforehand!)

The characters are just as interesting and fun in this second instalment, even though it did take me a bit of time to get used to Ropa’s way of speaking, acting and mannerisms which I obviously didn’t remember much of from book 1. However, about 60 pages in, I had gotten used to her again and I just enjoyed seeing her go don’t this adventure and get into loads of pickles along the way. I just love how earnest she is, and how caring she is towards her family. I think she is a fantastic character and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next, especially after that ending which has left me both saddened for one reason, and giddy to find out more for another reason!

Please tell me there will be a third book!!!!

I also love Pria, Jomo, Izwi, Gran, Callander and a few others we meet along the way. Huchu has created such an amazing cast of characters, fitting into this world perfectly and pulling me along quite happily for all the wild rides they go on. I was not expecting everything that happened in this book, but the characters definitely find ways to get the things they need and help one another along the way, despite all the disasters that befall them. I could also see just how far Ropa had come in her journey into learning magic and the intricacies and politics of this new magical world she was pushed into, finding her way about the Society, and now her internship with Callander at the “bank” as well as her placement in Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments to find cures for Priya so she can save these kids.

I have to say that I actually preferred the plot in this book compared to the one we followed in the first book. I don’t know why, but this one just seemed to click more easily for me and it felt so natural. Granted, it did take me over a month to read it, but I can assure you that I had the best time and had a smile on my face whenever I picked it up again. When I finished it on Monday night, I just had to say “Ah, what a great book” and I had that happy feeling. But also that sad void of leaving a world and characters you love. *Whispers* it is definitely one of THOSE books!!

I am trying to make this as unspoilery as possible if you have not read the first book, The Library of the Dead because it is such a rich, vivid and complex world and plot that I really think it is best going in somewhat blind and just discovering everything freely with no biased opinions. It is truly a fantastic series and this second book has cemeted it as part of my favourites.

I adored the atmosphere in this book. I can’t put my finger on it, but there was just something that MADE IT. I don’t know if you get my meaning, but you know that feeling of reading a fantastic book, right? This was it. I loved it from 60 pages in, right to the end, and I’m sure had I reread The Library of the Dead, I would have devoured it so quickly, instead of plodding along only reading a few chapters a week – which has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the book or its entertainment and everyhting to do with my stress, fatigue and pain levels over the past month or so.

MY THOUGHTS AND RATING

As you can probably tell from my extremely long “mini-review,” I really enjoyed this book and it gave me that happy “great book” feeling from the minute I got back into the swing of the plot, the context, the setting and the characters.

I do honestly think I would have given it 4.5 stars had I reread the first book beforehand, so that is entirely my fault, I just struggled to get back into it to start with because it’s such a rich and complex series, so keep that in mind if you want to start this series, I highly recommend getting both books and just bingeing them over a long weekend curled up in front of a roaring fire and a nice hot beverage to hand. It is the PERFECT book for that snuggly reading time we all need sometimes. I think as a reread, this series will potentially become a comfort read!

The atmosphere was very different to the first book, and I don’t really know why, but I much prefered it here. I loved to see this new side of the Society, the clinic where Priya works and this new world that Ropa hadn’t yet fully discovered in book 1. And guess what? There is still SO much to discover, which just makes me so happy. The characters are just as enjoyable to read about as they were in the first instalment, but I definitely loved seeing Ropa grow and go on this mad adventure that kept me gripped every time I was able to pick it up. I was so glad to be able to binge the last 100 pages on Monday, it was a bloody brilliant evening in that respect, excuse my French!

I gave this book 4 stars, and I really enjoyed it. I loved the plot, I loved the atmosphere, the characters and the world, and I loved diving back into this series. Huchu has such a great writing style that I just immersed myself in this story completely whenever I could. When I come out of a book with a smile on my face, you can be sure that it was a great read, and this was just that. I highly recommend this weird, wonderful, mad, riotous fun romp around Huchu’s unique and compelling Edinburgh and I will definitely be putting my copy in pride of place next to The Library of the Dead on my “read” shelves. It also makes me immensely happy that they match, PERFECTLY.

If you love urban fantasy mixed with mystery with a twist that will keep you guessing, great characters, especially a great, fun and humble MC, an intriguing world and context, magic that will blow your mind because of how unique it is, and a mad dash through streets to figure out what is going on, then this is definitely, 100% the book for you. I highly recommend this series to all urban fantasy/mystery lovers, or anyone wanting to discover the genre. It is a must-read series in my opinion and I can’t wait to delve back into it, I’m praying for a third book, pretty please!!

ASPECTS RATING

Atmosphere – 7

Start – 6.5

Pacing – 6.5

Ending – 7.5

Characters – 7

Theme – 7

Style – 8

Total = 49.5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR – T.L HUCHU

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.

Tendai’s Links: TwitterGoodreadsAuthor page

That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my post, and I hope you will pick up this series soon, it is well worth it.

See you soon, stay safe,

Ellie xx

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