Author: T.L. Huchu
Series: Edinburgh Nights #1
My rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars
Magical scarves, ghosts, secret libraries, & missing kids
In an alternative slightly dystopian future, Ropa is a poor girl living in the slums of Scotland. Ropa works as a ghosttalker, passing on messages from the deceased to the living, helping the dead move on. and occasionally stopping violent hauntings, when paid to. After being asked by a spirit to find her missing son pro bono, Ropa runs into magic, a secret library, and a nefarious scheme involving dark magic and kidnappings.
Ropa dropped out of school in order to eke out a living to support herself, her sister, and her elderly grandmother. She may be dirt poor and living in a trailer park, but Ropa is extremely intelligent, and I really liked that about her character – breaking a stereotype that one’s intelligence should be judged by their wealth and life situation. Her daily struggle to survive and support her dependent family was heartbreaking, but her optimism & strong will made her a character I greatly admired.
The story flows beautifully. I would’ve read the book straight through if I could. Life’s tough, and there were several dark moments, but overall, it was a great book. Magical, slightly dystopian, and with lots of action. I got some Hunger Games vibes while reading this. Probably because both have a strong female lead character struggling to survive another day of poverty while also looking out for her friends and family. But there are no big rebellions. Just some different methods of magic and some kids who need to be saved from evil magic practitioners.
There was supposed to be some Zimbabwean culture here. Personally, I had no idea what culture the few Zimbabwean (I guess) words were supposed to be from until I read the summary. I wish there had been more references to the Zimbabwean magic and culture, not just the handful of foreign words that only added a bit of color without any explanations.
The world building was nice and atmospheric. Slightly dark and dystopian, a world that went backwards from our highly technological one to one where only the rich can afford those conveniences while the rest of the world is lucky to have at least a cell phone. It was an interesting mix of modern and pre-tech days.
Ropa made an excellent main character. Life constantly pushes her down, but she’s got a lot of spunk, respects her elders, looks after her family, and does her best to continue her own education even as she works long hours. I really admired her and enjoyed her perspective.