by V S Nelson
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Pub Date 28 Jun 2022 | Archive Date 01 Nov 2022
Death is not the end.
There is no God waiting for you in paradise. No afterlife where friendships severed by death are reformed and families reunited. There is only the Aether, a dimension of insatiable hunger that will possess you no matter the life you led.
Yet there is hope for a lucky few. Archivists, existing between the world of the living and the world of the dead, can offer salvation… for a price. Taking your essence in the final moments before death, they become your afterlife, allowing you to speak with those who remain.
When the last archivist is tricked into murder by troubled teenager, Sun-young Kang, he finds himself the centre of a suicidal cult that die at his feet. But there is more to theses deaths than the Archivist realises. Someone is coming for him.
The Archivist may be the closest thing to a god that walks the Earth, but is that enough to keep those he cares about safe?
The Archivist is an incredibly rich novel with a truly original concept. It is cinematic in its scope and details the haunting, but also beautiful, gift an archivist could offer a person in their final moments.
The Archivist is primarily a novel about death and what happens after. Therefore, if you have recently lost someone close to you, this may not be the best time for you to review this book. Aside from the obvious death trigger, The Archivist also contains: coercive suicide, sexual abuse (referenced, not graphic), swearing (quite a lot of this), irreligious views and murder. There may be a few other triggers, but I expect they’re minor.
Recommended for readers aged 16+
"A wonderfully original paranormal mystery/thriller packed full of suspense. Highly recommended!" The Wishing Shelf
"I loved the idea and the execution of this book. I adored the relationship that developed between the Archivist and Sun-yung, a foul-mouthed but lovable troubled teen .... a brilliant dark fantasy novel that would appeal to a wide range of readers, and it is a story I hope continues into another book and I wait for [it] with baited breath." LoveReading
"A dense but absorbing tale of death’s endless perils and complications.... Nelson keeps the rather sizable cast in check, and the story is never convoluted, despite red herrings and dead characters popping up on the Archivist’s face. Though the location of all the action is unspecified, the author paints memorable visuals and supplies and a worthy open ending." Kirkus
Average rating from 13 members
What if you knew that death was not the end? That there was no afterlife, only the Aether, which hungers to possess your essence when you pass. You won’t be reunited with lost families, friends, pets. Just the all consuming Aether. No God, Allah, Yahweh, Brahman, or whoever you may believe in.
Yet, if you are lucky, and more importantly, wealthy, you may come across an Archivist. An archivist is traditionally a person trained in preserving historic material for future generations to access. However, these particular Archivists offer a link to the afterlife. They can capture your essence in the moments before your death, plucking it from the grasp of the Aether. This allows you to speak with your loved ones who remain. A loving lifeline, preserving you in life after death.
Sun-Young Kang crosses paths with an Archivist, and both of their lives are drastically changed. Sun-Young realises she has a lot more in life than she realised. The Archivist has kept from forming bonds with people, or caring about their problems. He does a job he is paid to do. When he finds he is getting emotionally invested in his new friends lives, and just how deep the connection goes, he wonders just how far he will go to save his friends? And who wants so many people dead? More to the point - why does it feel so personal?
This was one of the most original stories I have read in a long time. Dealing with life after death in a wonderfully original way. It explores the concept of what exactly would you do if you could cling on longer after death. What would be most valuable to you, and what would you hold on to the longest? How much is it worth? The Archivist is a fantastic character, flawed, vulnerable, cold, uncaring, yet fiercely protective of those he does let in. The plot of the story does stretch in some places, but when we look at what the Archivist is, I think you just have to roll with it. You will be engaged from the start, racing to find out what happens, yet not wanting it to end. Overall an absolutely engaging read, gripping from the start, and left me wanting more of this wildly weird, original world that VS Nelson has created.
*I received this book from NetGalley for review but all opinions are my own.
I loved this book. The premise of the story and how it approaches the topic of death was new and very well done. I liked the characters, particularly the Archivist. The story itself was well-done and kept my attention from the very first page until the last (I also stayed up far too late trying to read as much as possible one night). I would love for there to be more books about this.
This was such a brilliant and unique read. The author did an incredible job of crafting a mythos and world that felt both alive and new in its identity. The emotional depth of the narrative was greatly felt, as readers felt the character’s struggles with loss and the concept of death and the afterlife as a whole. The heavy atmosphere and tension that came with that reality were both relatable and original in their delivery.
The character arcs of this narrative and how they played into the evolving mythos surrounding the Aether and the Archivists were incredible to watch. The complexity of the Archivist itself and how it holds so many other essences within itself while maintaining some sort of autonomy was so thought-provoking and unique. Yet it was the emotional toll of the families and those living within the Archivist in death that really drove the heart of this narrative home.
Heartfelt, engaging, and thoughtful, author V.S. Nelson’s “The Archivist” is a must-read novel o 2022. The growing mythology of the Aether and the Archivists was so creative and unique in its development, and the imagery the author used in their writing was both beautiful and chilling, depending on the moment in the book the reader was reading.
Readers who liked this book also liked:
Omar Epps; Clarence A. Haynes
Sue Lynn Tan