Home       About Me       Review Archive

Monday, January 21, 2013

Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion
Published: January 22, 2013
Pages: 336
Source: For Review from Hachette Book Group Canada
Rating: 4.5 Stars

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 short: With an entirely unique and exciting concept, The Archived by Victoria Schwab is a refreshing read with an excellent mystery and vivid writing.
Just when you think there are no more truly original ideas left for books, Victoria Schwab comes back swinging with an entirely unique concept in her sophomore novel, The Archived. Mackenzie, the novel's easily likeable and sympathetic protagonist, is a Keeper, charged with the purpose of hunting down and returning restless spirits that escape from their shelves in The Archive. That's just the beginning of the premise, but I'll stop there to preserve the story's enigmatic plot. It's a fairly complex concept and Victoria Schwab nails the execution of it, ensuring that we are never confused, only intrigued.

The Archived was my first exposure to Victoria Schwab's writing and I was totally impressed - not only with the beauty and emotion of her prose, but also with how she handled the more practical aspects of the story, like the execution of the world building and the set up of the mystery. I can honestly say that I was left guessing right up to the end. There was also rarely a dull moment - the pacing was swift and the action scenes were numerous. Some of the spirits that Mackenzie has to hunt down are quite violent and this lends itself to some truly thrilling scenes. And this makes me especially excited as to the potential for this series.

There may have been a few times when my largely left-brained mind had trouble fully buying every aspect of the world building, leaving me with some niggling questions, but I think to dwell on them too much would be a bit too nitpicky and unfair of me. Ultimately, The Archived was a compulsively readable novel due to its enigmatic mystery, its thrilling action, and Victoria Schwab's vivid writing. Most significantly, The Archived has a wholly original premise and that is so refreshing and rare in books these days. Very much recommended!

Other Reviews:
Avery's Book Nook
Cozy Up With A Good Read
More Than Just Magic

Authors Links:


  1. Very well-articulated review! I'm excited for this to come out in two days. Although I haven't read Schwab before, the plot of this book sounds beyond intriguing. Thanks for the opinions!


  2. This does sound like a unique idea! I love that the mystery element was so good! I like it when I can't guess what's going to happen! Think I might give this a try :)

  3. I liked her other series, so I can't wait to read this one. Mackenzie sounds like a great MC! What I really appreciate is the unique concept; it's always great when authors come up with something new and creative. Gorgeous review Aylee! :)


  4. I loved this book and I thought that the idea of an Archive was so unique! The world building was excellent and I can't wait for book 2....

  5. I haven't read anything by this author but I have to say that I am very intrigued by the premise of this one. I have seen a few people say that some of it is a bit unbelievable and that they are curious to see how she will carry it out effectively in the following novel, but this is one I want to read for myself. I'm always looking for unique books to add to my TBR!

  6. I've been seeing this EVERYWHERE! I think everyone who's read it seems to like it -- from what I've seen -- and it's nice to know that there's something unique about it. I think there are a lot of books out there that just seem the same. I'll have to see if I can find a copy. :)

    Great review, Aylee!

  7. Wow! What a unique concept! I'm totally fascinated! And glad to hear you said she executed it well! It sounds super creepy, so I might have to reserve it for reading at the beach... I like to reserve creepy reads for sunlit beaches because I find it's impossible to get freaked out there! Hehe :)

    Adding to my to-read list!
    Lauren @ Hughes Reviews

  8. This sounds AWESOME Aylee, I can't wait to read it. I haven't read anything by Victoria Schwab either, and I'm super excited to get my hands on this book so I can experience her beautiful writing. I love that this book has such a unique premise too, I'm ready for something wholly original!

  9. yay, I'm so excited for this book so I'm glad you enjoyed this one! this really is a unique concept and her prose sounds lovely. <3

  10. I've been looking forward to this one and I'm delighted to hear that it's such a refreshing read. I really like Victoria on twitter, but I have yet to read The Near Witch, so this will be my first of her books too. Can't wait to dive in!

  11. I tend to be nitpicky when it comes to worldbuilding too, which is why I don't read a lot of steampunk - that's the most sensitive genre, language and worldbuilding-wise. Anyway, I've never read anything by Schwab either but I will definitely read this one. Sam sent me some swag a while ago so I've been using an Archived bookmark and it serves as a constant reminder to read this as soon as it comes out. I LOVE that the concept is so original and I'm really looking forward to it.
    Fantastic review!

  12. I loved this book, it was so unique and such an intriguing idea for a story. I completely agree about the mystery, I was so shocked when everything came out. I did find I found it a little slow in the beginning but it was a great set up. What I really liked was the back and forth from Mac in the present to when she was learning to become a Keeper. And the emotions that Schwab portrays was awesome, I loved reading about Mac and everything she went through!

  13. Just back from a huge bookshop haul - they must have wondered when we bought seventeen in one go!They were great bargains though. So I got City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare, Ballet Shoes (an old favourite which I finally own myself) and a Terry Pratchett, yay! Awesome review, I really want to read it now! I would be ecstatic at the amount of books on my TBR list, except for their cost. Oh well! Thanks for the review!

  14. Great review! I really want to read this one- and it would be my first from the author too. I'm glad to hear it's rarely dull and very original. That's quite exciting. I've heard lovely things about this book already so it makes me even more excited. I do hope I can check it out soon.


  15. You write so eloquently! I'm so jealous. I love when books have something to do with books/libraries. I don't understand how the author created that as an afterlife. It's a bit weird but I like weird (;

  16. I am so, so glad to read a positive review for this book. I loved the Netgalley sneak peek that went up a few months back, so I'm relieved that the entire novel is fabulous!

    Lovely review, Aylee! :)

  17. That's really cool! I'm glad you liked it! I read The Near Witch by her and I liked her style but I didn't love the story like a lot of people did. This sounds pretty unique so I'll give it a go!! :D

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Wonderfully put, Aylee! I cannot wait to read this book. My hands are itching to get ahold of it. Soon, very soon. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  20. I can't wait for this one to come out since I loved Schwab's The Near Witch (which you need to read; I loved the prose in that one). And the premise of this one sounds so cool and original!

  21. This one sounds really good! I'm glad you enjoyed it Aylee!

  22. I am very much eager to read The Archived myself! I really want to read both this and her debut, The Near Witch. It seems like she's able to come up with these crazy impressive ideas. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it so much, Aylee!

  23. Been anticipating this one for awhile, I'm glad you thought it was as good as I'd hoped it would be. I've always wanted to read A Near Witch by the same author, never got around to it. Maybe I'll pick this one up sooner?

    I'm glad you thought the idea was original. I'm enjoying different this year...

  24. Oh I'm really eager to read this one - I'm so thrilled you enjoyed it! I love how you mentioned how unique the premise is, you're right it's so rare to come across a plot or idea that is wholly original! Thanks for the great review :)

  25. :) Incredible review!

    Although I haven't read her work, this book definitely caught my eye. Not only is the idea SO COOL and totally unlike anything I've read before, but I have yet to come across a bad review. Everyone who has read The Archived has loved it.

  26. Great review! I have been reading a lot of mixed reviews for this one. I feel like you either love this author or hate her. And I may be the only person to say this, but I kind of hated The Near Witch, so I was hesitant to read another book by the author. But, you make me want to read this book so bad! The story just sounds so good.

  27. I am quite excited for this book. In fact I got myself a copy the other night off of Edelweiss! I cant wait to read it. It sounds deliciously creepy! lolz.
    Im hurrying through a book now just to get to this.
    New follower :)
    I ADORE your header!

  28. I have never read anything by Victoria, but I have heard nothing but amazing things about her writing. I have been himming and hawing about whether I want to read this and now I think I do.