Saturday, April 2, 2022

Review: The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

by T.L. Huchu
Release Date: February 22, 2022 (Paperback Edition)
2021 Tor Books
Kindle Edition; 330 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250767783
Audiobook: B087JXJ8P4
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / YA / Ghost
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

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.
My Thoughts
The Library of the Dead  is a book that I went into knowing very little about it. I was drawn by the cover and the title as who can refuse to read something about a library?  I definitely enjoyed the mystery aspects of the book and thought the setting and the atmosphere were quite interesting, a unique blend of culture and history that was intriguing.  I was taken by surprise though by the marketing, as this book is not marketed as young adult and I even found it in the adult fantasy section in my local bookstore which I thought to be deceiving. I know this seems like a small thing, and while there was no such distinction when I was growing up, it does exist today.
I really enjoyed the mix of mystery and paranormal elements in this story.  It wasn't just a ghost story nor was it just a story about missing children, so I got my fill of ghosts and how it affected the main character, Ropa. It took me a few chapters to figure out the setting, even though I knew it was in Edinburgh, but definitely not the Edinburgh we know today. It was eerie, creepy, and destroyed, Something happened, something cataclysmic, and the people in this book are the survivors.  I like that the author doesn't give huge descriptions of the world, but builds it up naturally and I figured things out as I went along.  I hate being led by the nose, so to speak, so this type of writing appeals to me.  
Once I realized the main character was a 15-year-old girl, I was good. Ropa was quite interesting as a characters and the love and care the showered on her grandmother and younger sister were endearing.  She was also tough and courageous because she had to be as she was responsible for the well-being of the family and their survival.  Having dropped out of school, she worked as a ghosttalker which sometimes got her into trouble.  I loved her interactions with the ghosts and how firm she had to be when it came to their demands.  Such fun!!
I was somewhat disappointed that the library played such a minor role in this book. I wanted more and I didn't get it.  And while the author did a fantastic job creating a haunting atmosphere, I did feel like the story was incomplete when it came to what was happening in Edinburgh. While I don't necessarily want pages of description, sometimes the lack of detail became a problem. And the atmosphere was so fascinating, I would have loved to indulge in the atmosphere just a bit more.  The plot was fast-paced, which isn't a problem, but it did sometimes sacrifice details that I think were important to the story and the author just assumed the reader would understand; I sometimes went back a couple of paragraphs because I thought I missed something only to realize I hadn't, it just wasn't explained.  

The Library of the Dead was a solid read, and I did enjoy it quite a bit. The characters were interesting, although it was sometimes difficult to connect with them due to the fast-paced nature of the book. I wish the library had played a greater role in the story, but I did enjoy the mix of mystery and paranormal elements as they were nicely balanced.  There was enough in this book that I will definitely be continuing with the series, but I am hoping for a bit more world building as well as character development.