Page Count 368
Publication date March 2022
Publisher Pan Macmillan
-Ropa Moyo’s ghostalking practice has tanked, desperate for money to pay bills and look after her family she reluctantly accepts a job to look into the history of a coma patient receiving treatment at the magical private hospital Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments. The patient is a teenage schoolboy called Max Wu, and healers at the hospital are baffled by the illness which has confounded medicine and magic.
Ropa’s investigation leads her to the Edinburgh Ordinary School for Boys, one of only the four registered schools for magic in the whole of Scotland (the oldest and only one that remains closed to female students).
But the headmaster there is hiding something and as more students succumb Ropa learns that a long-dormant and malevolent entity has once again taken hold in this world.
She sets off to track the current host for this spirit and try to stop it before other lives are endangered.
It’s been a while since I read The Library Of The Dead so I was glad to find that Our Lady Of Mysterious Ailments begins with a small summary of the characters to induct the reader back into the story.
There’s also a short description of magic but I skim these parts as I personally find them too much like school work, too in depth for my taste- they remind me of algebra calculations!
From page one I remembered why I enjoy Huchu’s writing so much. Ropa’s voice is fantastic, I can’t think of another as unique and entertaining. Written as if Ropa is talking to the reader, she describes the scene and narrates events in her own dialect with hilarious invented vocabulary thrown in. You aren’t reading this story, it’s being told to you.
It is a struggle at times to keep up with the amount of locations and names being thrown out. We’re often told what route Ropa is talking through Edinburgh and I felt it perhaps unnecessary. Likewise some of the history Huchu creates for minor characters and buildings feels quite heavy, it does add to the atmosphere but I’d happily have less of it.
Even so the story itself trots along at a good pace with plenty of discoveries to dig out.
Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments finds Ropa given a new mystery to solve whilst expanding on the vibrant, unique setting in Edinburgh following ‘the Catastrophe’ and continuing to develop previous characters.
The return of medical magician Priyanka, softboy librarian Jomo and dodgy slumlord Rooster are most welcome and I liked the further insight to Ropa’s Grandmother and her far reaching connections across Edinburghs magical society. We’re also given a new character to hate in Cockburn, a snooty Society member I’m sure we will see more of in future- as opposed to Izwi the younger sister who i found annoying for the most part.
I’m not sure how many title Huchu intends for the Edinburgh Nights series but I’m thoroughly enjoying them so far, I’m completely invested in Ropa and look forward to the next release.