Book Review: The Archived by Victoria (V. E.) Schwab

This exciting spin on your standard ghost story has great characters, excellent pacing, and a mystery so consuming you’ll spend the wee hours of the morning flipping greedily to the end.

Victoria Schwab has a gift for characters. Mac, our teenage heroine, is trying to cope with the unexpected and violent loss of her little brother. As if that weren’t enough, she’s a Keeper–tasked with keeping Histories, or the fragmented ghosts of the dead, out of the real world and in the Archive where they belong. There’s a gut-wrenching tension between the girl trying to understand death and the Keeper hunting down the dead as her job that builds throughout the book, cycling through emotions such as grief, loneliness, guilt, and longing.

But Mac isn’t the only one trying to cope with death: we have Mac’s parents, who’d prefer to ignore the past and put on airs or run away instead of facing their grief; other Keepers, who would as soon punch whatever rambunctious History the Archive tells them to haul back, than talk to them like they people they are; and the Histories themselves, so consumed with death and loss that it twists their minds and hearts.

The beauty in this story is that it approaches death from different angles, centered on the question: How do you cope with death? And as the story unfolds, we see our characters, and their reactions to death, bend and twist with each new person they meet. We identify with the villain, we feel for the heroine, and when their viewpoints start to blend together, we see a truly masterful story in which morality, and mortality, is questioned.

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