The Archived – Victoria Schwab

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archived

The Archives are a library of the dead. Mackenzie ‘s grandfather, who passed on his position to Mackenzie as a Keeper of the Archives, and her brother are both dead and she is torn between her present world of grief and this other world where she knows she can see the dead again. Mackenzie is a hunter of “Histories” who get lost between worlds and need to return and be placed in the Archives. She is not an archivist of texts but someone of this world who helps the dead pass on, get to where they are going, and find peace.  There are three groups of workers who help the dead: the Keepers, The Librarians, and the Archivists.  Mackenzie came into this role sooner than the Librarians would have liked, but her Grandfather named her his successor when she was a teenager.

Her job is to go into the Narrows when a soul has died and gotten free, well ….loose or lost may be a more fitting term, and for a better understanding she helps them ‘find the light’ with a magic key that can turn certain doors into a magical door which sends the lost soul to their restful place [Are you still reading?  Yeah, it took me a bit to follow too].  The problem is these recently deceased people occasionally get out and roam The Narrows and some are beginning to fight back in order to stay in this world.

With a piece of paper that receives written names as if a Ghost Writer scrawls them onto it, Mackenzie searches her territory – an old hotel turned into apartments – for these souls.  She can also read the histories (note the difference in capital ‘H’ verses lowercase ‘h’) of people by touching objects of this world.  This story is part fantasy, modern, mythical, and spiritual.  Mackenzie (also known as Mac, M, or Kenzie depending on who is talking to her) is able to find the recently deceased and get them out of limbo between our world and the next. Her role is that of a Keeper.

Now add to that that there are killers trying to kill the Keepers within the Narrows; her family is recovering from the death of her 10 year old brother (who Mackenzie obsessively tries to get the librarians to let her see his vault); and a secret to the old hotel her family now lives in and there is plenty of mystery.  She finds another Keeper and finds a stranger who saves her, and with the help of Roland, one of the librarians, she tries to not only solve the mystery of the hotel, but solve the conspiracy within her own organization.

The realistic side of this story is when the plot of her family life is the focus.  As you read more about her parents and her brother Ben, and his death, you find a very raw experience with both loss and how different people heal from tragedy.

It’s full of action and if your young readers can handle the death of a little brother and grandfather, then I think they’d enjoy the mystery.  Still, the parts about brother Ben and both Mac’s grieving and healing are a realistic downer.

Sequel: The Unbound (and a third is announced, but is without a title)

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