Review: The Dark Vault

Posted November 13, 2018

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Dark Vault The Dark Vault by V. E. Schwab
Series: The Archived
Published by Titan on 13th November 2018 (UK)
Genres: YA, Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Mackenzie Bishop's grandfather first brought her here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now her grandfather 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.

The Archived Series Is Finally Published In The UK!

My love of V. E. Schwab’s work is no secret to frequent readers of the blog, followers on Twitter, anyone who knows me… and frankly to complete strangers too! So you might be surprised to hear that, until now, I hadn’t read any of her work prior to Vicious. You see, Schwab’s The Archived series had never been published in the UK – until today!

Titan Books have published The Dark Vault – a bind up of the two novels in Schwab’s in the series – The Archived and The Unbound, complete with a bonus short story!

To say I’ve been excited is an understatement, so I was so thrilled when Titan sent me an early copy.

I must admit though that as excited as I’ve been about going back to read Schwab’s earlier work, I’ve also been a bit nervous too. I’ve loved her Villains, Monsters of Verity, Shades of Magic, and City of Ghosts work, so I was worried about venturing back to her earlier work – what if I didn’t like it as much?

Well, I needn’t have worried. This, after all, is V. E. Schwab – it’s impossible not to be consumed by her stories. The Archived and The Unbound had me thoroughly absorbed from the outset. I almost wish I could go back and read them afresh again!

The Dark Vault

MacKenzie (Mac) Bishop is a Keeper for The Archive, a role she inherited from her late Grandfather, Da. It’s a secret role that even her parents don’t know exists.

The Archive is where the Histories of the dead are stored, their stories filed away and contained. Every so often a History awakes and roams the Narrows – the space between the Archive and the Outer (the real world). As a Keeper, it’s Mac’s job to coax the Histories out of the Narrows and back into the Archive. It’s not an easy task, the longer the History remains in the Narrows, the more difficult and dangerous the job becomes.

Mac is armed with nothing but a ring and a key, a special key which allows her to open doors into the Narrows, Archive, Returns (where she sends the Histories), and the Outer. As a Keeper, she works alone to a list of names that the Librarians (those who keep the Archives in order) send out via magical sheets of paper. Whenever a History wakes in her territory, the Librarians send over the name and age (the older they are, the more dangerous they are), and Mac must retrieve them from the Narrows.

Mac has just found herself with a new territory. Following the death of her younger brother, Ben, her family has moved 60 miles away. Their new home is within a building called the Coronado, where her Mum is going to open up a coffee shop.

The Coronado is an old building, once a hotel and now flats, with a past of its own. As the new Keeper for the area, Mac finds there’s more activity in the Coronado’s Narrows than in her previous territory. As more and more Histories awake, Mac’s job becomes more challenging, and more dangerous.

My Thoughts

I really loved these books, and the fascinating world and concepts that Schwab introduces us to.

Once such concept is that, as a Keeper, Mac can tune into walls by touching them and ‘read’ their histories – effectively watching any scenes from the past that evoked high emotion play out.

She can do the same with people, which is why she avoids contact. Even with a special ring that helps to dampen the effects of those around her, Mac is still subjected to their ‘noise’ and, hence, their feelings and lives.

I loved the idea of the Archive, where the Histories of the dead go to rest. The thought of stacks of life histories held together and filed by Librarians is unlike anything else I’ve ever read.

Once again, I find that Schwab has some of the best characters. In Mac we get a strong heroine, but we also get a girl who is struggling to balance her lives, come to terms with her losses, and protect those she loves. She’s a great character, but quite honestly it’s Wes and the interactions between the two of them that’s one of my favourite aspects.

I really must stop; I could talk about the concepts, characters, and this story all day. It might not seem like it, but I’m reining myself in!

Schwab’s writing is wonderful; her description and attention to detail transported me to Mac’s side throughout these books. She has created such a special story across these two novels – a story of loss and grief, but also of friendship and finding a way to move forwards. It’s action-packed with the perfect balance of darkness, intrigue, mystery, hope, friendship, and romance.

Quite simply, I loved these two books, and miss the characters already. I’m so glad that we UK fans can now get our hands on the series – and look at that beautiful cover!