There are no spoilers in this review.
I discovered Victoria Schwab a couple years ago with the A Darker Shade of Magic series and somehow, I knew I had discovered an author I wouldn’t be able to forget. Turns out I was right. This Savage Song made me hide under my covers and fascinated me. With The Dark Vault, Schwab managed to impress me all over again with her writing talents and gave me a new series I really, really, really enjoyed.
The Dark Vault is a special edition, comporting both books in the Archived Series. I will be reviewing both stories as a whole here. The biggest thanks to Titan Books for sending me a copy of The Dark Vault for reviewing purposes. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
INTRIGUING AND IMAGINATIVE WORLD BUILDING
The biggest strength of the author and, once again what impressed me in The Dark Vault, is the world-building and the whole concept behind this story. The Archive, where people rest on shelves after they die. The Keepers, preventing the restless souls from wandering around and returning them to these very shelves. The Crew, hunting in the real world. If the concept seems a bit complicated to grasp, at first, it’s fairly easy once you do, to completely immerse yourself into the story. The author has this way of making this world feel real, three-dimensional, with its own rules, characters and complexities and I loved this so, very much. It’s dark, mysterious, slightly creepy at times, yet completely captivating from beginning to end, a great mix of paranormal/fantasy and contemporary elements for sure.
THREE DIMENSIONAL, AWESOME CAST OF CHARACTERS
In complicated, well-built, immersive and intriguing worlds, The Dark Vault also delivers when it comes to the characters, building them and letting us see them growing and changing as the series goes on. All characters in The Dark Vault were three-dimensional, jumping off the page, even the secondary characters, which Schwab also paid a particular attention to with details every now and then, making them unique, too.
Every character in this story carries secrets with them, secrets we know, secrets we discover as the story goes along, creating a compelling atmosphere and giving dimension to the characters, too. Mackenzie, our main character, is amazingly carrying the story. She’s witty, determined, confused and lost, sassy as well and following the story through her eyes was great, even though I had a harder time with her decisions at times, I could root for her.
I adored Wesley, so, so, so much, he was such an incredible companion and his and Mac’s slow-building relationship made me SO happy too.
I also loved that her family had such a good role in the story, too. Mackenzie is a teenager and, even if this is fantasy, I loved how parents were included in this story, too. Confused, clueless at times, adorably caring and supportive even if they didn’t know how to show it, at times.
INCREDIBLE STORY TELLING
Despite its length (almost 700 pages with the two books back to back), I did not get bored once while reading The Dark Vault. It was captivating, fast-paced and with Schwab’s incredible story telling talent. I also really enjoyed the flashbacks, giving more context, dimension and clues to the story. I appreciated the first book a little more than the second one, but both had a slow-building, suspenseful intrigue filled with twists and turns I really enjoyed.
The Dark Vault shows off all of Schwab’s talent for story-telling, world and character-building and confirms for sure that I need to read absolutely everything this author will write. Fans of great worlds-building and mysteries, compelling stories and sass, badass characters should love this as much as I did.
Final rating: 4 drops!
Trigger warnings: grief, murder, death, injury, physical violence, blood & talk of blood, self-harming.
Victoria Schwab, The Dark Vault, Published by Titan Books, November 13th, 2018.
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
Did you read The Dark Vault, or one book in the Archived Series? Do you want to?
Did you read any of Schwab’s books and if so, what was your favorite? If not, do you want to? Let me know in comments!