Audiobook & ARC Mini Reviews – The Library of the Dead & Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

Today I’m reviewing the first two books of the Edinburgh Nights series by T.L. Huchu. I saw the audiobook of Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments on NetGalley and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to request it since I’ve been wanting to read The Library of the Dead since last year. It gave me the perfect excuse to put aside the rest of my TBR and jump straight to it. While I own a copy of The Library of the Dead, I decided to get the audiobook from the library so that the medium would be consistent between the two books. What did I think? Read on to find out!

A 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.

This one was a bit of a let down for me. It had a lot of great elements, such as the enigmatic library, interesting magic, spooky supernatural vibes, and mystery surrounding the missing children. However, it didn’t come together well at all. The inclusion of the library and some of the other elements felt random and unnecessary because there wasn’t much of a payoff in this book from their inclusion. The mystery plot was rushed, and the main character didn’t really do much investigating at all. Most of the information and circumstances just fell into her lap without much effort. I enjoyed the bits that I learned about this world, but it was done in such a haphazard way that I don’t feel I understand much more about it than before I started the book. The thing I loved most about the book was the main character Ropa. She had a lot of attitude, and I enjoyed seeing her grow as the book progressed. Her slang took some getting used to, but once I became familiar with the style, I really enjoyed it. The narrator did a great job of bringing her to life and made me believe I was listening to her tell her story. I’m curious to see where the story goes next because this very much felt like the first book of a series with many elements left without much of a payoff. I just hope the next book has a tighter plot now that the background has been set. I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T. L. Huchu is the second spellbinding book in the Edinburgh Nights series.

“Stupendously engaging.” – Ben Aaronovitch, bestselling author of Rivers of London

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.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan audio for providing an advanced copy of the audiobook. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

After being underwhelmed by the first book in this series, I went into reading this one with considerably lower expectations and was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the problems I had with the first book weren’t repeated in this one. Ropa was back, and, once again, I loved her character. Her sass was just so much fun to hear (the narrator once again did a wonderful job of bringing her to life), and her life and perspective provided a window into what it is like to live in a family with a working poor background. It also shined a light onto the unfair nature of unpaid internships as they often create barriers that make entering certain professions extremely difficult for people of lesser means. Each of the characters was fleshed out a bit more, and I really enjoyed reading Ropa’s interactions with her friends and family. The world-building was much improved in this story compared to the first one. We finally got more background on the library and magical societies, which was really interesting. This book did a good job of straddling the line of deepening the reader’s understanding of the world while also developing and intensifying mysteries that will span the course of multiple books. I also liked that all of the world-building and plot lines served the central mystery in some way. It made the narrative feel cohesive and allowed the mystery to unfold in an organic way with multiple twists that kept me guessing. That being said, the mystery itself was a bit convoluted, and I had to stop and rewind the audiobook several times to try to understand the leaps in logic. It all came together in the end, though, and I’m really curious to see where the overarching plot of the series goes next. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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