Me: I don’t have time to start another series! Give me standalones!
Also me: *starts a new series*
So I have double standards, oh well.
I received a digital advance reader’s copy (ARC) of The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
In The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu, Ropa is a ghostalker—she can communicate with the dead, so she makes a living (ha, puns) ferrying messages from ghosts to their living relatives. Then, when a ghost approaches Ropa with a request to find her missing son, Ropa goes down an unexpected path. Along the way, she discovers a strange underground library that might help her solve this mystery. She makes new friends and has to learn how to harness her Zimbabwean magic, but soon realizes something dark is afoot in Edinburgh.
This was an intriguing book! It took me a little while to figure out the time period; as far as I can figure, this is a near-future, semi-post-apocalyptic Edinburgh, though how they got to this point isn’t entirely clear. However, it was a cool setting, so I didn’t mind if some aspects were vague.
I also liked Ropa. She’s scrappy and smart, a little jaded but still a kind person. Her narration and dialogue was really entertaining. The other characters like Jomo and Priya and Gran were great, too. The antagonists were scary enough, though they weren’t the most remarkable foes I’ve ever seen. In general, though, the mystery of who or what is taking children was interesting. It kept me guessing and engaged.
This book definitely reads like a first book in a series (which it is, but still). I wanted to know more about this world, especially the Library. It’s clear there’s a lot more going on there than we get to see, and honestly I’m surprised at how little time we spent there—especially considering the title of this book. I get the sense that Huchu knows a lot about it, but didn’t establish enough for me. I can only assume more information will come in the next installment.
In the end, The Library of the Dead is a great adventure through the gloomy streets of Edinburgh, with vivid magic and excellent characters. I may have wanted more background information, and more library action, but this is definitely a good book to pick up if you’re a fan of ghost stories or books like The Starless Sea and even Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.
Overall rating: 8.3/10
The Library of the Dead is now available!