“Treat all the bad things like dreams… that way, no matter how scary or dark they get, you just have to survive until you wake up.”
~ V. E. Schwab, The Unbound
Hey everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the festive season and not letting the pressure get to you!
I was incredibly lucky recently to receive an ARC of The Dark Vault by V. E. Schwab! This new bind-up features two of Schwab’s earliest novels, The Archived and The Unbound, released for the very first time in the UK. Huge thanks to Titan Books for providing me with a free copy!
This review will have ZERO spoilers for either The Archived or The Unbound.
What the book is about…
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.
What I thought of it…
I have to admit, I found this a little confusing at first. It took me nearly 60 pages to get certain characters straight in my head. However, I was certainly intrigued! The story was quite sad and a lot darker than I expected, with lots of tugging on the heartstrings.
Mackenzie was a likeable protagonist (though sometimes I was unsure of her exact age). And Wesley was certainly book boyfriend material. One of my favourite characters, though, was Roland. He was a precious Hufflepuff and I was really hopeful that we would get to see more from him as the story progressed.
It’s clear that Schwab’s writing has come a long way to reach the standard she is at today; however, while this did feel a bit repetitive at times, it’s still fantastic for an early work! Towards the end, Schwab wrote with absolute break-neck pace. I always think that she writes action really well and it was no different here; the tension was palpable.
This was a strong opening story and I rated it 4 stars.
Schwab expanded the setting of The Dark Vault in book two and I really liked the way she built upon the world she had set up in The Archived. It was fascinating to see the parallels between Mackenzie’s school life and the drama occurring in the Archive.
The Unbound is much quicker to get going and never lets up from beginning to end. I really liked the story and the added exploration of mental health topics, such as PTSD. The family dynamics in relation to this were excellent; I have major respect for how realistic Schwab was able to make her portrayal.
Mackenzie’s character development was great to see and I have to say, Wes became an absolute dreamboat in this book. And there was more from the delightful Roland, though still nowhere near as much as I would have liked!
Another strong 4 stars, though book two might just have the edge over book one!
Has anyone else read these ones? If you’re a Schwab fan, which of her books is your favourite? Leave me a comment below! x