The Archived

What happens when you pass away? Where does the soul go? And what happens when long passed souls wake up and try to re-enter the world?

Mackenzie Bishop is a Keeper, a person tasked with returning awakened souls – known as Histories – to the Archive, a library of the dead. Trained by her now deceased grandfather, Mackenzie is proficient at a number of traits: combat, reading objects with her touch, lock picking, talking to dead souls. Sometimes being a Keeper isn’t too bad; sometimes the Histories return easily. Other times, the souls are so distraught and confused – called slipping – that they lash out at the Keepers. Sometimes the Keepers don’t come back alive.

For four years, Mackenzie as done her job as a Keeper efficiently despite being the youngest Keeper hired by the Archive. It isn’t easy as she has no one to talk to about being a Keeper. The Archive has a strict rule about secrecy, so Mackenzie must constantly lie and stretch the truth about where she goes and what she does. Still, she loves being a Keeper and wouldn’t change anything. But things change when her younger brother, Ben, dies and her family moves to the hotel-turned-apartment building, the Coronado, to start anew. Mackenzie’s summer is now filled with her mother’s too-bright enthusiasm, her father’s quiet, and her increased duties as the new Keeper of the Coronado territory. It should be enough to take her mind off Ben – but it’s not. Lucky for Mackenzie, she meets Wesley who is also a Keeper and now she finally has someone to talk to about the Archive.

But the Coronado is old and has many secrets. Secrets that come back to haunt Mackenzie. Secrets – and Histories – that could kill her if she’s not careful.

Years ago, The Archived would not have been a book I would have thought about reading. It’s a haunting story with enough thriller elements to put me off (I don’t do thriller or horror movies/shows/books). But these days I will read anything by Victoria Schwab and the concept of a library of dead souls sounded interesting. Schwab manages to write both a haunting story and a growing up story as Mackenzie learns to cope with the loss of two of her beloved family members.

Like all young adult novels, there are elements of romance, but that’s one of the things I love about Schwab’s writing: romance isn’t the focal point. Mackenzie coming to terms with loss while struggling with her duties as Keeper is. Mackenzie learning to move on is the focus, not who she is falling in love with (which was no one). I really enjoyed this story more than I thought I would. Good thing too since I already have the second novel, The Unbound, and have heard there are more coming.

My rating: 4/5


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