THE WORLD IS SURPRISINGLY FULL OF novels where you find yourself quietly admiring the writer’s mastery of craft. Rarer are those novels that pull you along with a sense that the book’s creator is having huge fun and, moreover, has the technical chops to match the sheer energy of the storytelling. Despite its ominous title, The Library Of The Dead by Tendai Huchu (TL for short) is one such novel.
“As a writer, you want to sound a little bit tortured and all that shit,” Huchu tells SFX, “but I had a great time writing it, it was a total blast.” So how did Huchu come to write such a fantastic urban fantasy? As the man himself tells it, he “pretty much ripped off my own work” by drawing on two of his short stories: a tale similarly called “The Library Of The Dead” (2017), set in his adopted home of Edinburgh, and “Ghostalker” (2015), set in his Zimbabwean hometown of Bindura.
The latter gave him teenage protagonist Ropo, school drop-out and resident of a shantytown located on the edge of Scotland’s capital. Living in a near-future where things have clearly gone awry, she’s streetwise beyond her years and makes a living delivering messages to and from ghosts: “a Royal Mail, telegrams-type death mail service”, as Huchu puts it. It’s dangerous work, especially when Ropo investigates the case of a missing child on behalf of a spectral mother.
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