Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments, by T.L Huchu, from Tor books, is the second instalment in the author’s ‘Edinburg Nights” series. Once again our guide through this world is ghost talker Ropa Moyo. As was the case in the first book of the series, The Library of the Dead, Ropa is scrambling for money to take care of both her grandmother and her younger sister.
A lot of responsibility for a fifteen year old, but Ropa has been shouldering this task without complaint for a few years now. However, her old steady source of income has dried up as she spent too long ignoring her dead clients and they’ve moved onto other mediums.
While the finances might be tight things on the magical side of her life have started to look up. Sir Ian Callander, not only the leading magician in Scotland but the Secretary of the Society of Sceptical Enquirers (Scotland’s most prestigious magical society), has taken her on as his apprentice. While this is quite an honour, unfortunately it’s also an unpaid position.
Thankfully she is pointed in the direction of a potential source of income. A student at one of the schools of magic has contracted a mysterious illness and is only being kept alive through magical means at Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments – a hospital for magical ailments.
As it looks like the sickness was caused by a type of magical possession, Ropa needs to track down the ghost of whomever caused the damage. With her friends Priyanka Kapoor – a healer who works at Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments – and Jomo Maige – she sets out on a twisty trail through the underworld of and aristocracy of Scottish magic.
Along the way we meet rogue magicians, travellers, confidence men, and a whole slew of fascinating characters in both the magical and non-magical worlds. In Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments Huchu has continued to elaborate upon the world he introduced us to in the first book of the series making it even more interesting.
His central characters have continued to evolve and, especially in the case of Ropa, learn some hard lessons. She may not always make the right choice initially, but she’s smart enough to know when she’s been wrong and works hard to correct her mistakes,
While a fantasy Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments can’t be easily pigeonholed into anyone sub-genre. Magic, steampunk and mystery story all happily rub shoulders together without creating any confusion. This is a wonderful roller coaster of a ride and Ropa Moyo is a great conductor. While you can’t be quite sure what direction the series is going to take in the third instalment of ‘Edinburg Nights’, based on book two you know it will be great.