Adventures in Supernatural Dystopia: The Edinburgh Nights Novels by T. L. Huchu

Adventures in Supernatural Dystopia: The Edinburgh Nights Novels by T. L. Huchu

The Library of the Dead and Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments (Tor Books, June 2021 and April 2022)

Tor Books seems to have a hit on its hands with the Edinburgh Nights novels by Zimbabwe author T. L. Huchu (who writes non-genre novels under the name Tendai Huchu). The opening book The Library of the Dead hit the bestseller lists in the US, and expectations were high for the second, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, which arrived in April.

The international press raved about the first book. The Times called it “A fast-paced, future-set Edinburgh thriller… mixes magical mysteries with a streetwise style of writing,” and SFX labeled it “One of the strangest and most compelling fantasy worlds you’ll see all year.” But my favorite coverage was Stuart Kelly’s thoughtful review in The Scotsman, which said, “Contemporary fantasy, at its best, is both escapist and urgent: this does both admirably.” Here’s a longer snippet.

Of all the miscellaneous genres within “speculative fiction,” two strands are enjoying a certain degree of prominence at present; namely, urban supernatural fantasy and apocalyptic dystopia. TL Huchu’s novel is characteristic of both, and is also aimed at the Young Adult audience, although desiccated old fogeys like me can spend a very engaging and thrilling afternoon…

It is very engaging, written with panache and a great deal of imagination. It has moments of comic teenage exhilaration, and when the horrible does seep into the narrative, it is genuinely disturbing. The opening three chapters are a kind of textbook in world-building. Ropa, with her green dreadlocks and black lipstick, is established as nobody’s fool as she performs an exorcism for a better-off couple. It’s also critical that her power over the dead is facilitated by using a mbira, and her Zimbabwean heritage comes into sharp relief. Chapter two follows her to an encounter with the police, and we learn this future Scotland is an impoverished nation controlled by an authoritarian regime. The third chapter fleshes out the mythology – the “everyThere” – a kind of “Hades Hotel, a sort of budget underworld linked to our own.” It also sets up the hook: an unresting soul that can’t afford Ropa’s fees, but is desperate for information about what happened to her son, who disappeared…

Read the complete piece at The Scotsman.

Both books were published in hardcover by Tor. Here’s the complete details.

The Library of the Dead (336 pages, $27.99 hardcover/$18.99 trade paperback/$12.99 digital, June 1, 2021)
Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments (368 pages, $29.99 hardcover/$14.99 digital, April 5, 2022)

I couldn’t find a credit for the cover artist. Anyone know?

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The cover art (and design) is by Leo Nickolls. I looked the book up on Amazon, and was able to get a magnified version of the back cover. He’s got lots more of interesting genre stuff on his web page.

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