Rating: 4.75 stars
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.
Follow Mackenzie as she explores the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking, through these two timeless novels, now bound together in this thrilling collection. With stunning prose and a captivating mixture of action, romance, and horror, The Dark Vault delves into a richly imagined world where no choice is easy and love and loss feel like two sides of the same coin.
UK: 13th November 2018
I would like to thank Titan Books for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
So, this book took a little while to grow on me, but I can absolutely say that I ended up adoring it and falling thoroughly in love with the plot, the premise, and most specifically the characters! I am so glad to have read this book, and if it ever happens I would love to read more stories set in this world with these characters!
The main character that we follow is Mac, a young girl who is tasked with returning escaped Histories to the Archive, a sometimes volatile and dangerous job, and who has to keep this secret and continue her normal life alongside it. She is a very strong-minded character who somehow manages to get away with everything, as a matter of necessity she has got extremely good at lying! She is stubborn and sometimes very difficult, but considering what she has gone through she is coping extremely well. Because of the nature of her job and her life, she has never been able to let anyone close to her, and then she meets Wesley Ayers.
Wesley Ayers is by far one of my favourite characters I have ever read in a book! Is he the ultimate stereotype of a male YA protagonist? Yes. Do I love him all the more for it? YES! He is funny, and quirky and has the best banter, but can also be so sweet and kind towards everyone in his life, and the support he gives Mac is just wonderful. Also, the second a guy is written as wearing eye-liner I am completely attached and would probably die for them! He is truly a shining light in this series and I loved every second I got to spend with him.
There weren’t that many other notable characters in this series. Mac’s parents were quite interesting but not spectacular, they did create a really interesting tension in her family which added to her struggles, but other than that they were just side characters who weren’t that developed. Roland was a fascinating character however! It was really interesting to gradually find out more about him as the story progressed, and through that find out more and more about how the Archive worked and who the people there were. If there was ever to be another book in this series I would love it to have a stronger focus on Roland, as I still think there is a lot more to discover about him!
The plot in this book was stunning! Firstly, the concept was absolutely fascinating, the idea of a full lifetime of memories being stored within a body after someone’s death, and those then being accessed almost like a library, I just really loved it! It was incredibly well developed as a concept and also tied in so well with the dual identity storyline for Mac and just every other plot point in the series. Secondly, all the rules of the Archive put a very interesting spin on Mac and Wes’ friendship, which just added another layer of intrigue.
I also really enjoyed that within all the little plot points and stories, there was still an overarching plot between the two books that really tied everything together very effectively. There was so much going on outside of Mac’s job with the Archive, even just navigating a new school and everything that comes with that, but even still there were clear links into how her life was altered because of her secret and I loved that feeling of having something running underneath the surface all the time.
With regard to writing, there is very little I can say because it is Victoria Schwab, of course I love the writing! She is one of the best authors of our time and I will continue to read all of her old book and anything new she releases! The writing is always so vivid and interesting, and I have never come across someone who can write a fight scene so effectively! They are high drama and of course high action, but never confusing, it is always easy to follow where everyone is and what they are doing which is an amazing skill! It is definitely fair to say that this book lived up to my sky-high expectations of Victoria Schwab’s writing (as I always knew it would!)
As a final statement, this book was an absolute masterpiece that was detailed and vibrant and one of the most captivating books I have read this year. I was so fully immersed in this world and these characters and it was such a wonderful experience to spend time with this book. I would recommend this to any fans of fantasy, but especially those who adore urban fantasy stories will love this book and should definitely pick it up!