Review: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite

Title: Vampires Never Get Old: Tales with Fresh Bite
Author: Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker (editors)
Genre: Young Adult, Short Stories, Fantasy
Publisher: Imprint
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Eleven fresh vampire stories from young adult fiction’s leading voices!

In this delicious new collection, you’ll find stories about lurking vampires of social media, rebellious vampires hungry for more than just blood, eager vampires coming out―and going out for their first kill―and other bold, breathtaking, dangerous, dreamy, eerie, iconic, powerful creatures of the night.

Welcome to the evolution of the vampire―and a revolution on the page.

Vampires Never Get Old includes stories by authors both bestselling and acclaimed, including Samira Ahmed, Dhonielle Clayton, Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker, Tessa Gratton, Heidi Heilig, Julie Murphy, Mark Oshiro, Rebecca Roanhorse, Laura Ruby, Victoria “V. E.” Schwab, and Kayla Whaley. 

Review:

This is an amazing collection of modern vampire stories. Vampire stories have gone out of style in recent years, after the popularity of Twilight. People had said they had been overdone, but there are so many more vampire stories to tell. The white, heterosexual, privileged vampire story has been told many times, but this collection has a diverse range of characters, with queer and disabled characters from a variety of nationalities.

These stories were so original. I would have loved to see any of them turned into a full novel. They had rich settings and diverse characters. There was a Desi story and a Latinx story, and even a story about a vampire in a wheelchair. I’ve never read anything like these stories before, and I loved them! After each story, the editors wrote a paragraph about the vampire trope that was being flipped in the story. These sections showed how much thought went into each story and their placement in the collection.

Each story had a different origin story for vampires and different rules that vampires had to follow. In some, they couldn’t see their reflection in mirrors, while they couldn’t in others. Some vampires turned their victims into vampires against their will, and in others the victim had the choice to be turned into a vampire or not. There were also a couple of stories about vampire slayers, including First Kill by Victoria Schwab, which is being turned into a TV show.

This is one of my favourite books of 2020! I’ll definitely be recommending it for a long time.

What to read next:

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tuchloke (editor)

His Hideous Heart by Dahlia Adler (editor)

Have you read Vampires Never Get Old? What did you think of it?

Review: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Title: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
Author: Maggie Stiefvater, Morgan Beem (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: DC Comics
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Twins Alec and Walker Holland have a reputation around town. One is quiet and the other is the life of any party, but they are inseparable. For their last summer before college, the two leave the city to live with their rural cousins, where they find that the swamp holds far darker depths than they could have imagined. 

While Walker carves their names into the new social scene, Alec recedes into a summer school laboratory, because he brought something from home on their trip—it’s an experiment that will soon consume him. This season, both brothers must confront truths, ancient and familial, and as their lives diverge, tensions increase and dormant memories claw to the surface.

Review:

Alec and Walker Holland are twins with opposite personalities. Alec is quiet and introverted, but Walker is the life of the party. They take a trip to visit their cousins in the country for the summer before they start college. Walker wants to spend some quality time with his brother, but Alec wants to keep studying his plants that he brought along with them. He studies how plants store memories and emotions. On the first night, their cousins’ dogs are locked up in the garage where Alec’s plant experiments are being stored. The dogs eat the plants and chemicals, but it actually does more harm to the dogs than the experiments. The dogs transform into plant-dog hybrids. As the brothers slowly drift apart over that summer, Alec becomes more involved in his study of plant emotions.

This was the perfect graphic novel for Maggie Stiefvater to write. Her other books explore nature and plants, so writing about a character who studies and becomes a plant is a perfect match.

The plant emotions were displayed right on the page. If a character was connected to the plant, the emotions the plant was feeling would hover around them. The plants also stored memories of the things that happen around them, which revealed some secrets that the characters were hiding.

There was also great representation of diabetes. Alec was a diabetic, who had to check his blood sugar often. He had a sensor in his arm to check his blood sugar with his phone. The plants affected his blood sugar, so it played an important part in the plot as well. It was great to see this diabetes representation illustrated in the story.

I loved the fresh, green illustrations in this graphic novel. There were plants everywhere, including on the lockers in the school. Even if I didn’t notice the plants right away in the panel, the plant would give off emotions which showed that it was present in the story. Though Alec and Walker were twins, I could always tell them apart in the story. Sometimes, characters who are related are drawn so similarly that it’s difficult to tell them apart. Alec was always wearing green and had part of his head shaved, so he looked distinct from his brother. The expressions on their faces even reflected their personalities, with Alec looking very tense and Walker more relaxed.

This is a great graphic novel!

What to read next:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (illustrator)

Have you read Swamp Thing: Twin Branches? What did you think of it?

Review: A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2)

Title: A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2)
Author: Soman Chainani
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

After saving themselves and their fellow students from a life pitched against one another, Sophie and Agatha are back home again, living happily ever after. But life isn’t exactly a fairytale. When Agatha secretly wishes she’d chosen a different happy ending with Prince Tedros, the gates to the School for Good and Evil open once again. But Good and Evil are no longer enemies and Princes and Princesses may not be what they seem, as new bonds form and old ones shatter.

Review:

Agatha and Sophie finished their fairy tale and returned to their home of Gavaldon from The School for Good and Evil. One day, Agatha wishes that she had kissed her prince, Tedros, at the end of their fairy tale. That wish causes their happily ever after at the end of their fairy tale to be erased, sending them back to The School for Good and Evil to find their ending. However, this time the school has changed. Since they didn’t end their fairy tale with a prince kissing a princess, the people at the school have realized that fairy tales don’t need princes to be complete. The school now separates the girls and the boys. The return of Agatha and Sophie makes everything spin out of control, leading to an epic battle between the girls and boys.

This story looked at the gendered stereotypes in fairy tales. In a typical fairy tale, the prince and princess end up together at the end. In Sophie and Agatha’s fairy tale, neither of them needed a prince, because they ended up together. This would be fine, but it shows that the boys aren’t needed. That left all the princes wondering what they were supposed to do. I loved that this flipped the gender stereotype and explored a new type of fairy tale.

This story also explored appearances. Appearances play an important part in fairy tales too. The characters in fairy tales assume that an outward appearance is true, though it often isn’t. A woman may trust an old lady, who turns out to be a witch who poisons her. A girl may trust the woman she thinks is her grandmother, who turns out to be a wolf. Some of the characters in this story appeared to be one gender, but they were another gender. The characters blindly trusted each other’s appearances, even though it really didn’t make sense. This was a clever way to play with the gender stereotypes by changing appearances.

I loved this story even more than the first one! It finished on a cliffhanger, so I can’t wait to read the next one.

What to read next:

The Last Ever After (The School for Good and Evil #3) by Soman Chainani

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

Other books in the series:

Have you read A World Without Princes? What did you think of it?

Review: Girl, Serpent, Thorn [audiobook]

Title: Girl, Serpent, Thorn
Author: Melissa Bashardoust
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Audiobook
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review:

Soraya is a princess who was cursed with a poisonous touch. She couldn’t touch anyone, because her touch would kill them. Soraya has been locked away by her family because of her curse. One day, a young man encourages her to come out of hiding. He is the only one who isn’t afraid of her. He makes Soraya question her curse and who she is destined to become.

This was a beautiful fairy tale story. It started with a classic fairy tale curse, with Soraya not being able to touch anyone without killing them. There was a history to her curse and a reason why she was cursed, which followed a traditional fairy tale plot. I wasn’t familiar with the Persian folklore and terms used in this story, so I loved hearing about it in this story. There were many demons and deception that made for a suspenseful story.

The only problem I had with the audiobook was that I wasn’t familiar with the words so they were a little difficult to understand through just listening. This is a personal issue I had with the book, so I didn’t hold it against the book in my rating. At the end of the story, there was an author’s note which explained the words and their meanings, but I would have found it more helpful at the beginning. I think I would have gotten a lot more out of the story if I had been able to read this in print.

I enjoyed this audiobook, but I’d love to read it in print.

Thank you Macmillan Audio for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Have you read Girl, Serpent, Thorn? What did you think of it?

Review: Miss Meteor

Title: Miss Meteor
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

There hasn’t been a winner of the Miss Meteor beauty pageant who looks like Lita Perez or Chicky Quintanilla in all its history. But that’s not the only reason Lita wants to enter the contest, or why her ex-best friend Chicky wants to help her. The road to becoming Miss Meteor isn’t about being perfect; it’s about sharing who you are with the world—and loving the parts of yourself no one else understands. So to pull off the unlikeliest underdog story in pageant history, Lita and Chicky are going to have to forget the past and imagine a future where girls like them are more than enough—they are everything.

Witty and heartfelt with characters that leap off the page, Miss Meteor is acclaimed authors Anna-Marie McLemore and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s first book together.

Review:

Lita Perez has never felt like she fit in in her town of Meteor. Years ago, a meteor hit their town, giving it the name of Meteor. When it hit, Lita was created from the star dust. She grew up with the appearance of a human, but she’s from the stars. Now, that background is starting to affect Lita. She wants to fulfill her dream of becoming Miss Meteor by winning the beauty pageant in their town. She gets the help of her former best friend, Chicky, and Chicky’s older sisters who have competed in the pageant in the past. Chicky and Lita have never been the popular girls, and they’ve both been bullied, so they have to work extra hard to make Lita stand out in the competition.

This story had great queer representation. One of the characters was transgender. The way it was described by that character was that his family thought he was a girl when he was born, but they were wrong. This description takes the “blame” off the person who comes out as transgender, since they didn’t choose to be that way. Instead it shows that other people were wrong in assuming he was a girl as a child. I loved this description, since it takes the pressure off the person for being transgender and shows that it isn’t a choice.

There was a lot of bullying in this story, including transphobia, xenophobia, and homophobia. These acts and abuses were addressed. At first, I found it shocking that characters were saying these things to other characters in such a casual way. This shows how bullying can happen in casual ways, including by people who are closely related to you. Eventually it was addressed, but it was upsetting and shocking to read at some points.

The one thing that I would have liked to see more of is an explanation on how Lita came to be in Meteor. It wasn’t very clear how she was created from star dust. It was an interesting and fun science fiction storyline which left me with some questions.

I really enjoyed this original pageant story.

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Blanca and Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Have you read Miss Meteor? What did you think of it?

Review: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)

Title: The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1)
Author: Soman Chainani
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Review:

Two hundred years ago, a tradition began with two children being taken from the town of Gavaldon and brought to The School for Good and Evil. At The School for Good and Evil, children are sent to either the Good side to train to become the heroes of fairy tales, or the Evil side where they become fairy tale villains. Sophie is a beautiful girl who dreams of being sent to The School of Good. Her friend, Agatha, lives in a graveyard and seems like she is destined to go to The School of Evil. When Sophie and Agatha are chosen to go to The School, Sophie is sent to the Evil side and Agatha is sent to the Good side. They have to figure out how to switch to their correct schools.

This is a great twist on the fairy tale story. The students at The School for Good and Evil are trained to become fairy tale characters. Most of the students are descendants of fairy tale characters, like Tedros, the son of King Arthur. Sophie and Agatha stand out because they aren’t from fairy tale families and they can’t predict what their tale will become.

This story explored the meaning of good versus evil. Good is usually portrayed as beautiful and kind, while evil is usually ugly and gross. Since Sophie is beautiful she assumed she would go into the Good side, but she was sent to the Evil side to become a fairy tale villain. Agatha isn’t as pretty and wears black, so she is surprised when she’s sent to become a fairy tale hero. Throughout the story, they discover that good versus evil, or hero versus villain, can’t be determined by outward appearances.

I really enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

What to read next:

A World Without Princes (The School for Good and Evil #2) by Soman Chainani

The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

Other books in the series:

  • A World Without Princes
  • The Last Ever After
  • Quests for Glory
  • A Crystal of Time
  • One True King

Have you read The School for Good and Evil? What did you think of it?

Review: Winterwood

Title: Winterwood
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 5, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Be careful of the dark, dark wood…

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.

For as long as there have been fairy tales, we have been warned to fear what lies within the dark, dark woods and in Winterwood, New York Times bestselling author Shea Ernshaw, shows us why.

From New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep comes a haunting romance perfect for fans of Practical Magic,where dark fairy tales and enchanted folklore collide after a boy, believed to be missing, emerges from the magical woods—and falls in love with the witch determined to unravel his secrets.

Review:

Nora Walker lives in Fir Haven near the woods. Her family has always had a special connection to the woods, which are alive. The Walker women can enter the woods on a full moon and take the lost things that appear in the woods. One evening, Nora finds a boy in the woods. He’s a boy who went missing from a nearby camp a couple of weeks before. Nora is surprised that the boy, Oliver, is still alive. However, Oliver wasn’t the only one who went missing that night. Nora has to use her family lore to figure out what really happened to Oliver the night he went missing.

I loved the magical setting in this story. The woods near Nora’s home had specific rules for her family. They could only enter on the night of the full moon because the woods were asleep. Things that went missing would appear in the woods, including the missing boy, Oliver. The woods were a character as well, because they would come alive on the other nights, meaning no one should enter. There were some natural elements that played an important role in this story as well. There was a big storm, which cut off access to the town from everywhere else. There was a life changing fire at the end. I loved how important the setting was in this story.

The ending of this story was perfect. All the clues to what actually happened were throughout the story, but I didn’t catch on until the answer was revealed. This was a clever magical story. It could be solved by the reader, but it was a pleasant surprise for me.

This is a beautiful story.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Have you read Winterwood? What did you think of it?

Review: Kingdom of the Wicked

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: JIMMY Patterson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Stalking Jack the Ripper series comes a new blockbuster series… 

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost-even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked-princes of Hell she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

Review:

Emilia and Vittoria are twin witches who live among humans in Sicily. One night, Emilia finds her twin sister’s body with her heart torn out. There is a man standing over her body, who Emilia assumes is her killer. Emilia starts investigating her twin’s murder, which leads to her summoning a demon prince from Hell, named Wrath. She is drawn into the mystery of disappearing witches and demons invading the city.

I loved the mysterious atmosphere of this story. It was dark and mystical, and some parts were gruesome and bloody. There were dueling systems in the town, the religious group and the witches. Though these two groups didn’t seem to have much in common, they were often found in the same places.

The murder mystery played an important part in the plot. While Emilia was investigating her sister’s unusual murder, she also learned about the murders of other witches nearby. The murders were similar, with the hearts being cut out of the witches. Since these murders happen at the same time that demons start showing up, Emilia suspects a connection. I was really surprised at the solution to the murder mystery. The answer seemed so obvious when it was revealed, but I didn’t guess it.

This was a great witchy mystery. I can’t wait for the next one!

Thank you JIMMY Patterson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

Have you read Kingdom of the Wicked? What did you think of it?

Review: The Lost Wonderland Diaries

Title: The Lost Wonderland Diaries
Author: J. Scott Savage
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback ARC
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Something monstrous wants to exit Wonderland and enter the real world.

Lewis Carroll, author of the classic book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, secretly recorded the true story of his actual travels to Wonderland in four journals which have been lost to the world . . . until now.

Celia and Tyrus discover the legendary Lost Diaries of Wonderland and fall into a portal that pulls them into the same fantasy world as the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. However, Wonderland has vastly changed. Some of the characters that Tyrus remembers from the book have been transformed into angry monsters. 

Helped by the Cheshire Cat and a new character, Sylvan, a young rabbit, Celia and Tyrus desperately work to solve puzzles and riddles, looking for a way out of Wonderland. But the danger increases when the Queen of Hearts begins hunting them, believing the two young visitors hold the key to opening multiple portals to multiple worlds, and she will stop at nothing to capture them.

Will the crazed creatures of Wonderland escape into the real world? Can Celia and Tyrus stop them and save both worlds? Or will they be trapped in Wonderland forever?

Review:

Celia is the great-great-great-grandniece of Lewis Carroll. Her mom is a librarian, and they move across the country so her mom can start a new job. Celia has to spend her summer days at her mom’s library, where she meets Tyrus, another new student to the area. After they meet, they find a box in Celia’s mom’s office. They use Tyrus’s imagination and Celia’s logic to open the secret box, which holds Lewis Carroll’s lost diaries. These diaries hold the secrets to opening a portal into Wonderland, which is in dire need of help to get rid of the monsters that have taken over. Celia and Tyrus have to use their unique skills to help save Wonderland.

Celia and Tyrus were both bullied at their previous schools for being different. Celia is dyslexic, and has always felt left out because she can’t learn like her other classmates. Tyrus buries himself in his books, which his classmates never understood. They were both bullied, but through their adventure in Wonderland, they learn that their differences are what make them strong and unique.

I loved the puzzles in this book. The word puzzles were written in the style of Lewis Carroll’s writing, yet they were original. I wasn’t a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, but I loved this story. The puzzles had the same quirky style of Carroll, but without the strange and confusing parts.

One thing that I didn’t like about this story was that it switched between narrative perspectives. The chapters where Celia and Tyrus were in the real world had a first-person narrative from Celia’s perspective. The chapters in Wonderland, which took up most of the book, were narrated by a third-person narrator. There were only one or two chapters that didn’t include Celia, so they could have been changed to be either all first-person or all third-person. I read an advanced copy of this book and this narration style could have been changed in the final copy, so I didn’t hold it against the book in my rating.

This was a fun story! I hope there will be a sequel.

Thank you Shadow Mountain for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

Have you read The Lost Wonderland Diaries? What did you think of it?

Review: The Archived (The Archived #1)

Title: The Archived (The Archived #1)
Author: Victoria Schwab
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da 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.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost, Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself may crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.

Review:

Mackenzie Bishop’s family moves to a renovated hotel for a fresh start after the death of her brother and her grandfather. Mac had a special bond with her grandfather: they were both Keepers, people who return the dead to the Library where they belong. The dead are called Histories, and sometimes they escape the shelves in the Library where they are kept, and they can wreck havoc in the world if they get out. Mac meets Wes, another Keeper who often visits her new building. Mac has to adjust to her new home and the Histories that are kept there, while also piecing together the crumbling Library.

This was an original ghost story. The “ghosts” are called histories, and they are kept in a library. When they get out, they can become dangerous, so it’s important that a Keeper returns them to the library using their special key. I loved how the library and books played an important role in protecting people from the ghosts.

There were some flashbacks in this story to when Mac was taught how to be a Keeper from her grandfather, who she calls Da. These flashbacks were jarring at first, because I didn’t know who he was and when these flashbacks were happening. A couple of chapters into the story, I got into the flow of the narrative and I loved Mac’s voice in the story.

This is a great, original ghost story!

What to read next:

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

Other books in the series:

  • The Unbound

Have you read The Archived? What did you think of it?