Series Review: The Dark Vaults by V.E.Schwab

This book though *insert massive heart eyes photo here*. The Dark Vault is made up of two novels: The Archived and The Unbound, and they are both exceptional.

series review

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
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.

If you’re not sold on the book from that, then I don’t know if I can help you here. I was hooked from the start. The Dark Vault is totally unique and unlike anything I’ve ever read, and I would sell my soul for more of it in a heartbeat.  The concept is a fascinating one: when people die in this world, they become histories, they are sent to the archive where they rest and are read by the Librarians. Unless they wake up, and then Mackenzie, a Keeper, has to get them back where they belong, which sounds easier than it is.

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Mackenzie’s grandfather, Da was a Keeper. Before he died, he brought Mackenzie into his world and nominated her as his successor; usually this role passes to a child, and to someone older than Mackenzie. Some in the Archive have doubted her ability, and she is determined to prove herself worthy of the faith Da placed in her. Her job in the Archive must be kept secret; it leads to a lot of lying on her part, and a general lack of human contact because she gets memories from things she touches, which is an awesome concept but probably not a great thing to have to live with.

Mackenzie is living in a new town, her parents moved there on one of her mother’s whims. The family are grieving deeply for Mackenzie’s brother, Ben, and this grief reaches into every part of Mackenzie’s life. Her relationship with her parents is strained (moreso when she realises her mother has gotten rid of Ben’s things) and Mackenzie is in a new place feeling very much alone. The area she covers as a Keeper now is new to her, but the Archive is the same, and she takes comfort in going there and asking Roland, the Librarian, to let her sit with Ben’s history. She is never allowed to see Ben, but Roland bends the rules to let her sit by his vault. I thought this was really touching. Roland is one of the best characters in these books. I adored him. He’s a sort of father figure for Mackenzie, always there for her and prepared to listen, but not afraid to tell her when she’s doing something stupid or dangerous (which starts to happen a lot).

Being a Keeper is a lonely job, for the most part until two boys enter Mackenzie’s life: Owen, an escaped history who is grieving his sister, and Wesley, who turns out to be a very intriguing character. I can’t say a lot about Wesley without giving away spoilers, but he’s just wonderful. He is charming and hilarious and has an obsession with baked goods:

I’m not going anywhere. 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 much needed addition to Mackenzie’s life.

Owen is very different. Mackenzie knows she should send him straight back to the Archive, but he seems different to other Histories, and Mackenzie feels connected to him because they are both mourning the loss of a sibling. Owen challenges what Mackenzie thought she knew about her world, he unsettles her. She lets her guard down and he leads her to a mystery outside of the Archive, in the very building Maczkenzie lives in,  that she is determined to resolve.

Sometimes Mackenzie makes really stupid decisions and I wanted to shout at her a lot of the time, but her actions make for an amazing story.

I am trying not to spoiler here, so just do me a favour and go read this book (these books?) The Dark Vault is one of the most unique books I have ever read. It’s a thrilling ride and you will not be disappointed.

 

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