The Archived: Review
Mackenzie (Mac) has just moved to New Orleans to with her parents to “start over” after her younger brother died. Her parents seem to want to move on, but Mac doesn’t. She wants Ben back, but she knows better than anyone that isn’t possible. Mackenzie is a Keeper, someone who has the ability to walk The Narrows, the space between the living and The Archive, where the dead are called Histories and “line shelves like books”. It’s Mac’s job to help wayward souls find their way back to their resting place before they can find their way into our world.
The hotel turned apartments where Mac and her parents now live is rife with secrets, and Mackenzie finds herself busier than normal. Her returns list keeps filling up, and she’s finding it more and more difficult to hide her job from her parents. Then there’s the cute, guyliner wearing, quick-witted, Wesley who has grabbed Mac’s attention. Mac doesn’t really have time for a boyfriend — especially now that she’s learned that someone, or something, is deliberately setting Histories free. This person (or thing) will stop at nothing to bring down The Archive, and unless Mac can step up her game, she may find herself lining a shelf next to her brother.
Ms. Schwab is a very talented writer. She managed to create an immersive supernatural world, blending it perfectly with ours and making it feel real. Her prose is colorful without weighing down the text, and while there were a few slow spots, the pace felt almost perfect for the book. The only thing that bothered me (and honestly, this is probably my own fault), is that I had a hard time getting the gist of The Narrows. I know they are the “hallways” between the living world and The Archive, but I didn’t understand the marks on the floor and how Mac decided which History was to be returned behind which door. I’m sure I probably glazed over this in the beginning, and I was too lazy to go back and search for it again.
In the beginning of the book, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Mackenzie. She felt a little too head-strong and unreasonable, but as the story progressed I finally “got” her. She’s very determined, but also vulnerable. The grief she felt over the loss of her brother, Ben, and her grandfather (Da, who was also a Keeper and trained Mac for the job) was very palpable. By the end of the book I was completely on her side.
The rest of the characters were just as well-developed. I really liked Wesley. At first he came across as kind of cocky, but he totally grew on me. I think my favorite character was Roland, a librarian in The Archives who is kind of a mentor to Mac.
A perfect blend of paranormal creepiness and real emotion, The Archived is perfect for fans of creepy mysteries. It’s haunting without being too scary, which should make it appeal to a wide range of readers. I highly recommend this for the prose and the world-building alone. I will definitely be checking out The Unbound next January.
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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.