I found the Library of the Dead when searching online for books that were like The Starless Sea. As always, I got it (for free) out of the library to do a cursory read before committing to purchasing. And while there weren’t that many similarities between Morgenstern’s book and this one, Huchu’s first foray into speculative fiction is a great success. I’d never heard of Huchu before, but I will definitely be checking out his other publications based on how much I enjoyed this read.
Edinburgh has experienced a cataclysmic event that’s turned the city on its head and led to huge levels of homelessness and lawlessness. The police department is defunct and corrupt, the rich politicians stay in their locked up areas of wealth, and the rest of the city is left to its own devices. In this dystopian urban landscape where magic seeps in from every rock, Ropa is a fifteen-year-old ghost-talker who makes her money by ferrying messages between ghosts looking for closure and their living family members. The cash isn’t great, but it keeps her Gran and sister afloat in their little trailer broken down on an old farm field right outside the city. The rent, school supplies, Gran’s medicine, and general living expenses are a lot on a teenager’s shoulders, so when a ghost approaches Ropa to find what happened to her son, Ropa dismisses her because the family can’t pay.
But as stories of other children going missing begin permeating the city, Ropa realizes the right thing to do is get involved. With the help of her friends, Jomo and Priya, Ropa unlocks magical secrets that lead to answers so big, not even she can believe them.
This book is a slow burn, and what I mean by that is while you’re reading it, the plot goes along and you’re thinking to yourself that this a good book and it’s well done. And then you finish it, and the more time you spend away from the book, the more you realize how fabulous it was. Huchu’s got a ton of thought-provoking one-liners delivered by Ropa, and while they fit perfectly into the book during the read, they stick with you once the book is closed. All the major characters of this book are POC, and their distinct voices and cultural backgrounds bring a perspective to Ropa and her friends that unpack big ideas and issues in tangible ways. Also, it was so fun and amazing to watch the wheelchair-bound Priya be such a bada** throughout the story.
Bingo Square: Free