Book Review : Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review : Our Lady of Mysterious AilmentsOur Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T. L. Huchu
Published by Tor Books on April 5th 2022
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Ghost, Contemporary
Pages: 368
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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two-half-stars
Source: NetGalley

Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments by T. L. Huchu is the second spellbinding book in the Edinburgh Nights series.
Some secrets are meant to stay buried
When Ropa Moyo discovered an occult underground library, she expected great things. She’s really into Edinburgh’s secret societies – but turns out they are less into her. So instead of getting paid to work magic, she’s had to accept a crummy unpaid internship. And her with bills to pay and a pet fox to feed.
Then her friend Priya offers her a job on the side. Priya works at Our Lady of Mysterious Maladies, a very specialized hospital, where a new illness is resisting magical and medical remedies alike. The first patient was a teenage boy, Max Wu, and his healers are baffled. If Ropa can solve the case, she might earn as she learns – and impress her mentor, Sir Callander.
Her sleuthing will lead her to a lost fortune, an avenging spirit and a secret buried deep in Scotland’s past. But how are they connected? Lives are at stake and Ropa is running out of time.

 

After finishing The Library of the DeadI immediately picked up Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, because I needed to know what trouble main character Ropa would get herself into next.  Before I knew it, Ropa was on the case of yet another magical mystery, this time involving hospitalized high school students who have gotten wrapped up in a notorious secret society.  With her on the case is her new friend and healer, Priya, her best friend, apprentice librarian Jomo, and her beloved fox River. But as a new member of Edinburgh’s magical Society, and the clock ticking on the lives of the high school students, the stakes are higher for Ropa than ever before.

 

“Now I have some prior experience with dealing with kids who’ve experienced ‘extranatural’ health issues, and so that’s why Priya roped me in on this. Plus, I know how to spot an opportunity. If I nail this case, I might find myself with more work in the long run – maybe I can get Gran seen. I deffo gotta behave myself now.”

 

From the title, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, I expected much of the story to take place in or to focus on the magical eponymous hospital. Imagine my surprise when instead, I actually found myself learning more about the Library of the Dead, and why exactly it has the name that it does.  I really enjoyed this reveal, as this was something I was really wondering about in the entire first novel in the Edinburgh Night series, but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit let down that there wasn’t more of a focus on the magical hospital with the eye-catching name.

 

Though Ropa visits the hospital and its patients once or twice, there’s not a whole lot of substance involving the world-building of the facility, other than that it’s for the wealthy. But at large, Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments does not do much more than allude to world-building. For instance, the novel references something known as a “Great Catastrophe,” which was literally a first mention for the series the whole way in the sequel, but doesn’t explain it at all. I have absolutely no idea what this catastrophe was or how it affected the world at large. Kind of seems like it might be a little important from the name though.

 

Similarily, while Ropa somehow tracks the bread crumbs surrounding the strange condition that befell these high school students, I found myself completely lost. Somehow, there’s a secret society, a lost fortune, astral travelers, demonology, and magic involved in all of this, but I had absolutely no earthly idea at how it all connected. For awhile, Ropa seems confused about the connection herself, but then magically figures out how it’s all intertwined, but I couldn’t see these interrelations even if I had a magnifying glass and a deerstalker hat. My inability to come even remotely close to a guess at what the heck was going on involving the main mystery of the story made it rather disheartening for me.

 

Despite feeling like I could never see the whole picture of Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, whether in regards to the mystery, the titular hospital for Edinburgh’s elite, or other world-altering events like the aforementioned Great Catastrophe, I still really enjoyed the novel. Though I definitely don’t think Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments is nearly as strong as the first entry in the series, The Library of the Dead, I just think these books are so much fun. I always get sucked into Ropa’s challenges, whether it’s struggling to find food for her family or to solve a giant magical mystery, I am always invested.

 

“I’d rather be grateful for what I got. Izwi, Gran, that’s all I need, and them two keep me busy enough, like. Some folks out there ain’t got no one at all, and that’s pretty scary. Others can’t stand their own, and that’s a major baw ache. Me, I got the best two in the world, and great friends, so as far as I can see, I’m winning at this life thing.”

 

Though I have to say, I think the series of Edinburgh Nights truly shines the most not when its handling the subject of magic, but during Ropa’s day-to-day life and interacting with her friends and family. Ropa is such a compelling character, who though being street-smart and sassy, always takes the time to appreciate what she has and the people she loves. Though she doesn’t always make the wisest decisions—she is after all, only fifteen—her empathy and gratitude for what she has going for her really sets her apart from other young female protagonists, and is especially admirable as she lives in the slums without a dollar to her name. So often we see young heroines making horrific and rash decisions with no thought for those around them, but not so with Ropa, which I think is a breath of fresh air.

 

Despite loving Ropa, as well as her family and friends, and this return to all of their adventures, I don’t think the plot or the world-building of Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments is the strongest. Even if you squint, there just isn’t enough exposition for the readers to solve the mystery along with the heroine or to figure out exactly how Ropa’s magical world works or came to be. That being said, I still had fun reading this novel and wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any future entries in the series.

two-half-stars
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Book Review : Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments - Blogging with Dragons

Posted April 5, 2022 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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