Ropa lives in Edinburgh and earns her living by talking to ghosts and delivering their messages. It’s not easy work and she doesn’t earn much from it but it’s a steady job that makes sure her sister and grandmother get to keep the caravan roof over their heads. One night when she’s out in the park a new ghost makes a strange request, she needs to find her missing son.
The Library of The Dead by T. L. Huchu surprised me; it’s not just that I’ve never come across a story like this but the world Huchu has created is so exciting. We’ve all read dystopian novels or watched dystopian movies and most of them have the same hyper futuristic feeling to them but The Library of The Dead looks backwards instead of forwards for its dystopian inspiration. We’re talking horse-drawn carriages and candlelit hallways. It’s as though Huchu had one simple thought when creating his dystopia “what if there were no fossil fuels?” And it works beautifully. Ropa has a mobile phone, electricity still exists, there’s even an electric milk float. It seems to be a very limited resource though, perhaps in this version of Edinburgh, there is only solar power. I think most people in Scotland would agree that’s not going to give you a lot of power.
The story was great, it was full of action and intrigue. It kept up its pace very well. There are so many thing’s I want to learn more about, Ropa and her friends talk about what happened to the world to create the dystopia but nothing is revealed. She also seems to have some past enemies around the city of Edinburgh that she needs to avoid and that’s not made very clear either. Fortunately, when you see the spine of the book you’ll see a number one. The Library of The Dead is the first novel in the series and I’m looking forward to reading more of them.
As recommendations go this is going to be one I pull out a lot. Especially if you enjoy a little magic and a dark academic aesthetic, along the lines of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. If you’re looking for a book that will introduce you to more horror themes without having to sleep with a light on then this is that book.