Book Review: The Dark Vault by V. E. Schwab

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.

What I Thought:

After reading Vicious and Vengeful by V. E. Schwab, I snapped up The Dark Vault, a repackage of her two novels in The Archived series – Titan Books is producing really beautiful versions of Schwab’s books and this is another winner.

I really struggle with Fantasy, but this book is definitely my kind of Fantasy, rooted as it is in the real world. Mackenzie Bishop is a normal teenager (with her own share of tragedy I’ll admit, but normal just the same) except for the fact that she hunts Histories and returns them to the Archive.

A lot of the back story between Mackenzie and her Grandfather is really well done so that you go from wondering how he could expect her to take on such a responsibility, to it making perfect sense that he has chosen her. It’s a huge thing to take on, while still attending school and hiding her job and her many injuries from her parents, but her struggles with this are expressed so well.

When Wesley Ayers comes into Mackenzie’s life and she realises that he is a fellow Keeper, she at least is able to confide in him, even as she tries to deny a growing attraction between them.

Wesley is an amazing book boyfriend! I don’t know whether V. E. Schwab has a unique insight into writing young men, but in all of her books that I’ve read, she just gets these boys and captures them vividly.

As a package of two books, this really is a mighty tome, but it’s great to be able to read both books in quick succession as the world V. E. Schwab has created is so compelling and I felt myself desperate to know more. One aspect of this new volume that helps with that is that there is a brand new short story included, written from Wesley’s perspective, which adds a lot to this version of the book.

Goodreads tells me that there is a third book in the series planned, but with no release date – here’s hoping that the prolific V. E. Schwab, who has to be one of the most hard-working authors writing today, returns to the world of The Archive soon!

The Dark Vault is published by Titan Books.

To find out more about V. E. Schwab and her other works, check out her website. You can also connect with her on Twitter.

PS – As an aside, but not really related to this review, I met V. E. Schwab at YALC a couple of years ago and heard her speak in a panel – she is the most interesting and lovely person. Buy her books!

Please note: I was sent this book for review. All opinions are, as ever, my own.

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