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Title: The Library of the Dead (#1 Edinburgh Nights)
Author: T. L. Huchu
Published: 4th of February 2021 – Tor Books
Format: eARC (NetGalley) – 336 pages
“When she listens to you like that, it’s like the whole universe goes quiet just for her. Your voice is the only thing worth listening to, and only you matter.” – The Library of the Dead
Hello Hello! How are you?
Happy Friday! I’m so glad it is nearly the weekend because my week has been so long and I’ve been dragging a migraine since Tuesday, I hope I can relax and read a little Saturday and Sunday!
I’m really happy to be posting my review of this book today because it was such a great read! I had tried to get it finished and reviewed for its release yesterday, but I just didn’t feel well enough to finish the book, but I’m here now! Enough of my waffling!
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 by T. L. Huchu is the first book in the Edinburgh Nights series, which is urban fantasy mixed with dystopia, and lots of elements of very cool magic and Zimbabwean heritage. When I got the email about this book, I read the first line and downloaded the Galley as quickly as I could because this sounded exactly like what I enjoy, and I’m so glad I was right.
I’m only going to do a short-ish review for this book because I don’t want to say anything to spoil anyone, and the beauty of this book is really going in kind of blind and getting swept up in the magic, plot and characters!
I haven’t read that many books that are urban fantasy, but I am quickly getting obsessed with them, mix that with a world you know was our own but has now been totally transformed because of some “catastrophe” that we don’t hear about much but see the consequences of, well you can bet I’ll enjoy it. One of the things I liked the most about this book was the setting. It was absolutely incredible and I loved walking around all parts of Edinburgh with the characters. I’ve not had the chance to visit Edinburgh yet, so this was my first little visit to the city, and I loved it.
I also really liked the fact that there were a lot of things not said, only hinted at, for instance, “God save the King… Long may he reign”, the fact that half of the city centre is submerged under a new loch, that magic abounds and people come to ghosttalkers to pass messages to the living, and so many more things. I usually get annoyed at a book that hints at so many things and doesn’t explain it all, but here, I was just so immersed and enjoying reading the book so much that it didn’t matter. Ropa, the main character, had my full attention, and I’ll happily wait to learn more in the next book.
The characters were just *chef’s kiss*. My favourite was Ropa, our main character, who is sassy, determined, she is only trying to protect and help her Gran and her little sister Izwi, she works long hours and gets into quite a few scrapes, but she has such a big heart. This is something that you wouldn’t expect from this setting and time period (you get the idea that it is a futuristic dystopian version of Edinburgh) because of how harsh the world seems, but Ropa never loses empathy, compassion and caring for people. This is what I loved about her, she is human, she has her faults, but she never stops caring.
Coming in at a close second was Priya. I loved her from the minute she wheeled onto the page (she is in a wheelchair) and she was just so full of life. There is still a lot to learn about this character, but she had Ropa’s back and played a big part in the plot. I really liked her and I can’t wait to see her again. I also liked Jomo the more and more we saw of him, and Gran and Izwi were also such great characters. The great thing about this book is that although Edinburgh has been completely reduced and life seems completely different, dangerous, harsh, almost tyrannical, the characters are not cold-hearted when they wouldn’t be blamed for it to be honest. The fact they are so kind, caring and full of life is really a testament to their personality.
I don’t want to give this next bit away, but I also really liked the ghosttalking that Ropa does thanks to her mbira. This is an instrument used by the Shona people of Zimbabwe and I loved how the author weaved in little bits of this culture into the book, it made it so much more multi-faceted and interesting. I have read books with ghosts before, but this was such a unique take on it and I loved it from the minute I started this book. Ropa also learns a different type of magic during her experiences and this is liked to the “Library of the Dead” which was such a cool place, I could literally spend all day there. Again, we don’t get much from this setting which to me, and from the title would seem quite central, but I’m going to wait until book 2 because I know I’ll get the answers I need.
The writing style and pacing were also really good. I think the author has done a great job of inserting themselves and their personality in the book. You can definitely feel them behind the words and this is something that I love feeling when I read. This book, the writing style, the wit, the prose, the characters, the plot and the setting are all larger than life and I think that T. L. Huchu did a fantastic job of bringing them all to life. I loved the writing style as it was just so fresh and fun!
“What is magic if not the thing that connects us to the land and those who rest in it, the voices that whisper in the wind – our ancestors and their forebears?” – The Library of the Dead
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
Overall, this was such a great book and I’m so glad that I decided to read it. my mini-review is kind of big, so I’m really sorry, but once I got writing I couldn’t stop, and that must mean something about how good this book was.
I felt immersed and I think that is down to just how great, engaging, fun and quick the writing style is. You feel Ropa as such a palpable, believable and great character, I loved reading about her, her personality jumps off of the page and I just couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, especially when such wild things happen to her.
I gave this book 4.5 stars (see below for my ASPECTS rating), because there were a few chapters in there that I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I think that was down to me being exhausted and not a reflection on the book itself. I just am missing that tiny spark to give this one a full 5 stars, but I’m pretty sure the next instalment will get all the stars!
I would recommend this book to fans of urban fantasy, darker fantasy, bigger than life characters, a complex and unique plot, an intricate and interesting magic system, the mix of cultures, and a dystopian world. I will definitely be continuing this series.
Thank you once again to Stephen, Jamie-Lee and the team over at Tor Books, I’m so glad I got the opportunity to read this book!
That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed reading this post, see you soon, stay safe,
“… because evil doesn’t happen because good men do nothing. It happens because they get sucked in, they participate. There are no neutral observers in this world, Old Albert E. showed us that already. We’re all in the game, whether we like it or not.” – The Library of the Dead
Atmosphere – 8
Start – 7
Pacing – 7.5
Ending – 7.5
Characters – 8.5
Theme – 8
Style – 8
Total = 54.5
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