The Archived

The Archived

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Series: The Archived, #1

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 22nd 2013


Five 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 that 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 hardwon redemption.

– Blurb courtesy of

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“I suppose it doesn’t matter how they get out. All that matters is they do. And when they do, they must be found. They must go back.”

After losing her little brother Mackenzie’s parents have decided it’s time for a new start in a new home where there are no memories of Ben to stumble upon. Following her mother’s latest dream Mackenzie and what remains of her family end up uprooting their lives to somewhere where Mackenzie doesn’t only need to deal with a new school once terms starts again, but a new territory for her to patrol as a Keeper.

Ever since her grandfather passed the job onto her Mackenzie has been in charge of keeping the Narrows clear of Histories, all that remains of the dead, returning them to the Archive and making sure none escape into the real world. It’s a lonely job, one that involves a lot of lying to her parents, and one that, now she has lost her brother, gives her a chance to visit Ben in a way her parents are unable to.

“What if I mess up?”
“Oh, you will. You’ll mess up, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll break things. Some you’ll be able to piece together, and others you’ll lose. That’s all a given. But there’s only one thing you have to do for me.”
“What’s that?”
“Stay alive long enough to mess up again.”

However there is something going on in her new home that could have a horrifying affect on both Mackenzie’s lives. The Narrows are filling up with the dead faster than she can clear them, there is unrest in the Archive meaning more and more Histories are at risk of waking, there is a History in the Narrows who isn’t slipping, and there is a decades old murder in Mackenzie’s room which, the more she looks into, the more she discovers something not right with what happened.

The Archived is the first book by Victoria Schwab I read but now that I’ve read more of her books I felt it was past time I went back and re-read this one. There are some books that are never as good the second time you pick them up as they are the first time but that wasn’t the case with The Archived, or The Unbound for that matter. This is a brilliant story, and even knowing what would happen next I still found myself quickly turning pages, desperate to get to the next part of the story and find out what would happen to Mackenzie and Wes.

…The Characters

“What a mess. Truths are messy and lies are messy, and I don’t care what Da said, it’s impossible to cut a person into pielike pieces, neat and tidy.”

Mackenzie has been a Keeper for a long time, the job handed down to her when she was only twelve, and as such she has an expert at keeping the two halves of her life separate and lying to her parents, evading their questions when she needs to run to the Narrows and return another History to the Archive. Mackenzie idolises her Da and tries to follow his rules to the letter when it comes to dealing with histories, but there are some she can’t quite follow.

Her position as a Keeper and the knowledge of what the Archive is gives Mackenzie a unique path to her brother even after his death. She knows that the History on the shelf isn’t actually her brother, just a catalogue of his thoughts and memories, but it is something she has which she clings to after losing him so suddenly.

“It takes at least three assassination attempts to scare me off. And even then, if there are baked goods involved, I might come back.”

Wesley is a Keeper, like Mackenzie, but he has a different outlook on life and the job they do than she does. While Wesley still keeps his truths close to his chest he opens himself up to people in a way Mackenzie can’t. He hides his real feelings behind humour and is adapt at turning the conversation back on people to avoid answering questions he can’t about his own life.

It becomes a game, whispered and breathless.
“I hide who I am.”
“I fight with the dead.”
“I lie to the living.”
“I am alone.”

When they first meet Mackenzie and Wesley have been hiding this big secret and being able to rely on each other is a huge relief. However despite knowing she can trust him Mackenzie still keeps everything close to her chest. She doesn’t tell Wes about what happened to her brother, why she keeps returning to the Archive to sit by his shelf, and she doesn’t mention anything about the History she encounters in the Narrows who isn’t slipping the way Histories are supposed to.

Family plays a big part in The Archived The main aspect is Mackenzie’s relationship with Da, who taught her everything about being s Keeper and passed his job down to her. Mackenzie idolised him and follows his rules like they’re laws for being a proper Keeper. After what happened to Ben Mackenzie’s relationship with her parents is filled with cracks. All of them are doing whatever they can to move on; with Mackenzie it’s throwing herself into her duties and talking to Ben’s shelf, for her mother it’s throwing herself into the coffee shop.

…The Setting

“The Archive makes us monsters. And then it breaks the ones who get too strong, and buries the ones who know too much.”

One thing I have always loved about Victoria Schwab’s books is the world building. In The Archived a lot of the story is set in the ‘real world’, which means the world building in this series isn’t as comprehensive as in the Shades of Magic series for example because a lot of it we already know. Everything that comes with Mackenzie being a Keeper – the Archive, the Narrows, the Histories she fights when needed – was well developed though. There’s a certain horror-ish element to the Narrows and the idea of life after death Schwab has written about in this book. The Archive is a giant library, but instead of books it is a catalogue of the dead, and everyone that wakes eventually slips in the Narrow and turns into something that needs to be fought and returned to sleep once more.

While The Archived series isn’t my favourite of Schwab’s books, that honour still belongs to the Shades of Magic series to the surprise of no one, it’s still an interesting and incredibly written story. Schwab is incredibly talented at developing new and fantastical worlds but in this book you can see, especially through Mackenzie, how amazing her character development is as well.

What did you think of The Archived? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

24 thoughts on “The Archived

  1. Oh gosh, I remember reading this SUCH a long time ago haha, I never finished the series though I don’t think? And I don’t remember much of what happened in this one. Definitely needs to be reread. I’m so glad you liked it! I love anything Victoria Schwab writes ahah though I doubt this one will be able to pass my love for the Shades of Magic trilogy, I’m still sure I will love this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly I read this book for the first time ages ago so I felt I needed to re-read it because I couldn’t remember anything about it either. 🙂 It’s a great book and it was just as good picking it up the second time as the first.
      Same here, she’s my number one auto-buy author at the moment and oh I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next! 😀


  2. Wahhh, Schwab really does sound like a flawless author! I’ve known about these series, but never really wanted to check them out as much as the Dark Shades series, but it’s definitely good to know that they aren’t bad at all! Have you read Schwab’s earlier books? The Everyday Angel series? They definitely don’t look like anything she writes nowadays! That’s for sure hahah 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh she really really is, re-reading this book has completely cemented her as one of my all-time favourite authors. In my opinion her Shades of Magic series is the best of the best, so I’d definitely recommend picking up those books at least. I haven’t read her Everyday Angels series but I may have to be on the look out for them. Honestly if it’s written by Schwab I feel like I’m guaranteed to love it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Archived was actually the first book by Victoria Schwab that I ever read and the one that made me fall in love with her stories! 😀 I’m very happy to see that you loved it as well. The whole world that Schwab created in this book is simply fascinating and like nothing I have ever read before – and I loved every moment of it! The Narrows had such a creepy feeling to them as well and it was amazing reading about Mackenzie’s adventures. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah it was the same for me. While Shades of Magic is my favourite by her The Archived is always going to have a special place in my heart because it was the first I read by Schwab.
      Oh it really is, how she comes up with her ideas for stories and worlds I’ll never know but I hope she never stops writing. The Narrows are definitely creepy, and now I’ve re-read both The Archived and The Unbound I want more from Mackenzie! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful review as always, Beth! The premise to this book sounds really intriguing. The concept is fairly original and the characters seem pretty well-developed. I think I may need to check this series out, especially now that I find myself a new fan of Ms. Schwab!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Azia, the premise is definitely intriguing and it’s what grabbed me the first time I picked this book up way back when. There’s nothing else like this on the shelves I think, plus as it’s written by Victoria Schwab you know it’s going to be an amazing story! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s safe for me to go in with higher than normal standards for this one lol. Victoria Schwab is simply amazing. And her concepts feel really original, so it’s definitely a book I could look forward to! Thanks for sharing it 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I almost feel like it’s impossible to be let down by a V.E. Schwab book. This one is no less amazing than any of her other releases, it’s just amazing in a different way. I can’t wait to see what you think of this one Azia! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh such a lovely review, Beth, thank you for sharing! I only read the Shades of Magic series from Schwab so far, but I’m looking forward to reading more. That book sounds SO intriguing, I really like that synopsis even if it scares me a bit as well ahah I’m not sure why – it certainly seems like it has a particular atmosphere. So happy you loved it even more the second time reading it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Marie, I’m glad you enjoyed this review! 😀 The Shades of Magic series is Schwab’s best in my opinion, but all her books are pretty amazing and The Archived series is a good on to pick up as well. The book probably won’t be as scary as the synopsis makes it seem, it’s definitely a very unique read so I hope you enjoy it if you decide to pick it up. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh that’s amazing, I met her last year at YALC and she’s going to be at YALC again this year so I definitely can’t wait for that! 🙂 I reckon you will be a huge Schwab fan Stephanie, and yes you really need to pick up her Shades of Magic series at least ASAP! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The Archived was also the first book of Schwab’s that I read! And now that you said it, Wesley TOTALLY hides everything behind his humor! Wesley’s such a smol cinnamon roll though. ❤ ❤ And I definitely agree with how incredible Schwab is at worldbuliding! All of her worlds are SOOO intricate and amazing, and I enjoy escaping to them every time! The premise of four Londons was what got me so interested in the Shades of Magic trilogy in the first place. I also agree that those books will be my favorites from Schwab!

    Great review, Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely a cinnamon roll. I loved Wesley so much I think he has to be my favourite character in this series. I really enjoyed his sense of humour but yeah it’s kind of his way of hiding everything from the world. 🙂
      Oh they really are, I don’t know how she thinks of the things she does. Four Londons was what got me interested in the Shades of Magic series but I thought her idea of life after death in this series was pretty interesting as well.
      Thanks so much May! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wesley’s definitely my favorite character in this series! He’s sooooo hilarious and kind and caring and AGH.

        Oh yes, the life after death part is super interesting, I agree! All of her book’s premises are intriguing, honestly.

        Liked by 1 person

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