Saturday, 20 July 2013

Review - The Archived by Victoria Schwab

 The Archived (The Archived, #1)

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Amazon UK

This was one of those few books I knew I’d love from the cover and blurb alone. Libraries? Dead people shelved like books? I had a feeling this was going to be right up my alley, and happily, I was right!

The premise for the books is the idea that we are made up of our experiences and memories, and that these survive our deaths in the form of Histories, stored in a vast library known as the Archive. Mackenzie is a Keeper, meaning that it’s her responsibility to find escaped Histories and return them to their rightful place. After the loss of her little brother, her parents move to an old hotel, a place with a history someone wants to cover up. Mackenzie is forced to reassess everything she thinks she knows as she learns that something is wrong in the Archived, and it’s somehow tied in to her new home’s sinister history.

This book drew me in from the first page and refused to let me go. I loved Mackenzie, who is a fantastically relatable protagonist – both tough, ruthless keeper and lost teenage girl desperate to cling to the memory of her little brother. The Archived explores an array of themes surrounding loss and memory, life and death, through its unique concept of the Histories. They’re like ghosts, in a way. I wouldn’t call this a horror story, but the idea of a hotel with a hidden history, and the shadow of a murder in the bedroom, sends a delightful shiver down the spine.

I’ve read so many books and seen so many films which have a great concept and poor execution. Thankfully, The Archived isn’t one of them. The gripping story and lyrical writing more than match the fascinating idea. I’m usually a fast reader, but this is one of those books you want to slow down and savour because of the beauty of the writing. At the same time, the plot held me hooked until the end. A definite five stars from me!
Rating: *****


  1. I like the cover and the description certainly sounds intriguing. I may have to add this to my list :)

  2. Great review! I'm always hearing a lot of fantastic things about Victoria Schwab's writing, but haven't had the chance to check any of it out for myself yet...