Book Club: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Krista McKeeth_2_tnKrista:



Schwab_archivedImagine 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.


Mackenzie is our main character, having taken over the responsibilities of Keeper at the Archive after her grandfather’s passing.  Wesley is the funny side-kick living in the same apartment building and soon to be love interest as well. Owen, a lost History, wandering the halls of the Archive. He helps Mackenzie as she searches to solve the mystery behind why there were so many deaths in the new apartment building they have just moved into.


Wesley- he is funny and adds balance to Mackenzie’s character who is going through a lot changes and learning a new job. Wesley adds the humour and caring.

Least Favourite

Patrick- he works in the Archives and is just a really rude character. He is mean, grumpy and shows no effort at all to make others feel welcome at work.


With the recent loss of her brother,Ben,  Mackenzie’s job as a Keeper in The  Archive is harder than she imagined. She knows that visiting Ben is not healthy but she finds it comforting, as her parents decided it was best to get rid of all his possessions for them to heal. Mackenzie feels his History is the only way to remember him and keep him close to her.  When they move into a new apartment complex she is feeling bitter towards her parents and finds it a release when a job comes her way, so she can escape to the Archives.


The pacing of the story really begins to pick up when she has a vision in her new room of the aftermath of a girl being murdered. Also the introduction of Wesley into the book coincides with larger amounts of Histories escaping, keeping her very busy. Here is the real beginning of the murder mystery and why so many people have died in the apartment complex.


Very action packed ending with everything coming to a head at the same time. Mackenzie proves how strong and selfless of a character she really is.


A very unique and enjoyable story. The only thing I felt missing was more of a connection with her parents. Thoroughly enjoyed the mixture of characters (especially Wesley) and the world building was amazing with beautifully descriptive writing.


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

“An omission is not the same thing as a lie, Miss Bishop. It’s a manipulation.”





Tyler Nevins has done a beautiful job of this hauntingly accurate cover. It is simplistic and yet it speaks volumes, helping set up the world built by Schwab within the pages.


The main focus of almost all the characters is surviving. This can bring out the best and worst in us all.


I have a feeling we’re all going to pick Wesley. He’s making the most of his life, and his ‘job’ as a keeper. Very cool, calm and collected. He has a neat stick too.

Least Favourite

Mac’s Mum. UGH!!! Can that woman be more insensitive?


Mac has inherited her Grandfather’s ability to enter hidden places with the purpose of putting Histories (read dead people), back in their correct places within the archives.


Mac and her folks move after the unthinkable happens and it’s up to Mac to control the influx of Histories escaping into the Narrows.


I’m pleased with how it ended. I did guess who was to blame, but seeing Victoria craft the story made the journey worth every minute of reading.


Overall, this is quite a different take on the “helping the dead cross over” scenario. It covered new ground, flew in from left field and blindsided me with it’s intriguing premise.


Have you at least got tenants who look like they belong in a Hitchcock film?”

Well, so far I’ve met a morbidly obese antiques hoarder and a boy who wears eyeliner.”

They call that guyliner,” she says.

Conversation between Mac and her friend Lyndsey.






I usually know right away if I like a cover or not, but with The Archived I’m not sure how I feel. Even after reading the story and looking at the cover for months, I’m still unsure of what I think. Nothing bad sticks out, but nothing really stands out either. The cover does its job.


Overall, I found a lot of the characters in The Archived to be interesting. Mackenzie is a Keeper, Histories are souls of the dead, and Librarians are those who organize these histories.


Bel guessed correct, Wesley would have to be my favourite character in this story. He just seems content with himself and being a Keeper; he’s sweet and happy. If I didn’t pick Wesley, I would have to go with Da, Mac’s grandpa. He is just old, interesting, wise and really cool.

Least Favorite

Uhh, this is an easy one, Mac’s parents. Both seem to be in their own little world, never realizing that something is going on with Mac, or never wondering where she spends her time.


The reader learns everything about Mac’s history as to how and why she became a Keeper – inheritance through her grandpa. We also learn everything there is to know about the Archived, the Narrows, Keepers, Histories, and the Librarians. There’s a lot to learn!


Mac and her parents just moved into a new apartment, and Mac’s list of Histories seems to be growing longer and longer. She realizes she can influence the Histories when Mac gives one of them another day.


Just like Bel said, I really enjoyed the ending; Schwab’s writing was interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I liked the entire idea of the Archived and Keepers, and the way Histories are dealt with.


I do plan on reading the second book; I can’t wait to see what Victoria Schwab has in store!

Hardcover, 328 pages  Published January 22nd 2013 by Hyperion

  • Kay

    I really enjoyed The Archived. The concept was brilliant and unique. I think most of us who have lost and loved someone can relate to MacKenzie in one way or another. Like many Wesley was my favourite.

    • Lisa

      I agree with you! Schawb created a whole new idea of the dead, and their passing; it’s unique and what makes the story so interesting! The second book is hitting the store soon, do you plan on picking it up?

      • Kay

        I definitely will be getting The Unbound. Can’t wait.

  • Krista

    I completely agree with Kay, Wesley really brought a balance to the story with Mackenzie going through so much. He was the comic relief and of course romantic interest that was really different from Owen.
    Which it was nice to have a little light-hearted comic relief and romance to such a heavy subject matter as death, and the keeping/respect of their memories
    Very Unique story put together in a very well written way, gripping and thought provoking

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