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Archivist Wasp

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Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-lost ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-lost ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They're chosen. They're special. Or so they've been told for four hundred years. Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won't survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.


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Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-lost ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-lost ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They're chosen. They're special. Or so they've been told for four hundred years. Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won't survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

30 review for Archivist Wasp

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    After starting to read the sequel - Latchkey - and realizing I couldn't remember much besides my general feeling about Archivist Wasp, I had to revisit it. And now, having re-read it, I think I had underrated and undersold it back 3 years ago. This book left me a sobbing mess. This is the kind of book crying I like - the kind that is caused by emotions not easily accessible. After all, anyone can make you cry over a dead puppy or a mom with cancer (you know those books). The crying I like is the After starting to read the sequel - Latchkey - and realizing I couldn't remember much besides my general feeling about Archivist Wasp, I had to revisit it. And now, having re-read it, I think I had underrated and undersold it back 3 years ago. This book left me a sobbing mess. This is the kind of book crying I like - the kind that is caused by emotions not easily accessible. After all, anyone can make you cry over a dead puppy or a mom with cancer (you know those books). The crying I like is the one that a writer has to work harder to elicit. I cried for a man who spent centuries roaming the ghost world trying to find his friend who he thought he'd betrayed; I cried for a woman stuck in an eternal prison because the sense of her selfhood had been taken away from her; and I cried for a girl who needed to find strength to stop being a tool in a powerful man's hands. Reading Archivist Wasp was as much painful as it was exhilarating. Still think it's not a crowd-pleaser, there is no familiar, comforting formula, but oh well, it spoke directly to my heart. Original review Such an odd, strange book. I totally understand why no big publisher wanted to take it on. Ghost hunting, traveling in a confusing land of dead, often unexplained magic. And yet, it has SO MUCH to say about the power of friendship and the importance of taking back your own agency. Not for everyone, but kind of great. Excellent review on Kirkus https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Navessa

    “I am the Archivist. Catchkeep’s emissary, ambassador, and avatar on earth. Her bones and stars my flesh; my flesh and bones Her stars. Mine is the mouth through which the dead world speaks. Mine are the hands that record what the dead world left behind. Mine are the eyes that hold vigil, so that the old world’s death does not return to kill the world anew.” Wow. What an unexpected, beautiful, strange, unique, imaginative story this was. For most of it, I felt a lot like Alice must have in Won “I am the Archivist. Catchkeep’s emissary, ambassador, and avatar on earth. Her bones and stars my flesh; my flesh and bones Her stars. Mine is the mouth through which the dead world speaks. Mine are the hands that record what the dead world left behind. Mine are the eyes that hold vigil, so that the old world’s death does not return to kill the world anew.” Wow. What an unexpected, beautiful, strange, unique, imaginative story this was. For most of it, I felt a lot like Alice must have in Wonderland. The main character, Wasp, is an Archivist, the goddess Catchkeep’s human embodiment. Or so she’s been raised to believe. Her job in the post apocalyptic wasteland this book drops you into is capturing, studying, and killing ghosts in an attempt to learn something from them about the Time Before and how it was destroyed. The world Wasp introduces you to is brutal, and so is she. It opens with her murdering a trio of girls called Upstarts, something she’s forced to do every year if she wants to remain the Archivist, for there can only be one. She’s respected, shunned, hated, and feared in equal measure by everyone else around her. The only company she keeps is the girls who want to kill her and take her place, the Catchkeep priest who lives to torment her, and the ghosts she hunts. After four hundred years of former Archivists learning nothing from their prey, she manages to come upon a ghost stronger than any other she’s ever encountered. What’s more impressive, this one can speak. Something she once thought impossible. The ghost is that of a long-dead, genetically engineered super-soldier. He comes from the Time Before, and tempted by the knowledge he possesses and the seemingly magical technology he holds, she agrees to help him look for his former partner. Only, to do so, they must descend into the underworld. I feel like I should mention up front that this book is definitely not going to be for everyone. There is very little world building in the beginning, and only around the 50% mark do you begin to get any answers to the innumerable questions you’ll be asking by that point. Reading it was a lot like being caught up in a fever dream. The realm of ghosts is chaotic and disjointed; one scene might take place in a snowy field, and then Wasp and the ghost of the soldier stumble upon a rusted metal door set into the ground. They open it and climb down into a room full of dead ghosts. Then climb back up and open that same door and step into the bottom of a sea. There is little rhyme or reason to the things Wasp sees while there: “She looked down to find the ground composed of countless objects that looked like wide flat pebbles made of metal. She picked one up. A locket. If it once had an engraving, it had long since eroded to a smudge. She popped the catch with a thumbnail. The hinge had rusted and the whole front snapped off. Inside was a spider crouching on an apple seed.” That said, anyone with an open mind looking for something different should give this a try. Pick it up when you get fed up with the over-used themes and tropes in your favorite genre, and this book will seem like a breath of fresh air. It’s as beautiful as it is macabre, as poetic as it is tragic, and as unforgettable as it is unputdownable. This review can also be found at The Book Eaters.

  3. 4 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    Archivist Wasp has just survived her third annual Archivist-choosing day and her wounds (she is getting slow) are still fresh, but healing. This time though, she chose to let the last of the upstarts she fought, live. Maybe things will be different this year, she thinks. The upstart dies anyway. The Catchkeep-priest makes sure to tell Wasp that, after he steals some of her food, as he twists yet another psychological knife on her side. But life goes on, and Wasp has another year before the next rou Archivist Wasp has just survived her third annual Archivist-choosing day and her wounds (she is getting slow) are still fresh, but healing. This time though, she chose to let the last of the upstarts she fought, live. Maybe things will be different this year, she thinks. The upstart dies anyway. The Catchkeep-priest makes sure to tell Wasp that, after he steals some of her food, as he twists yet another psychological knife on her side. But life goes on, and Wasp has another year before the next round of upstarts will fight her in a deadly match in order to become the next Archivist. Another year of this so-called life. Maybe she will finally find a way out. Maybe today will be different. And it is. For the past four hundred years, the Archivist is the one chosen by the Goddess Catchkeep to undertake the special mission of capturing, interrogating and dispatching ghosts. The task is to learn about the ghosts’ past, hoping to jog their memories or see anything – anything at all – in their demeanour that will explain why, when or how the world ended. But as the accurately kept records of previous Archivists attest, ghosts don’t speak. No one knows anything. Until today. +++ I don’t even know where to begin telling you how much this book rocks. I loved many, MANY books this year but this one is maybe the one I wish to hand-sell the most. Word-of-mouth, please work, let more people read this. What makes me so excited about Archivist Wasp? SO MANY THINGS. It’s set in a bleak, primitive, post-apocalyptic world where no one knows how the world ended. It’s the Archivist’s job to find out through note-taking and the questioning of ghosts. Not that that has shown any results in the past 400 years. Why do they keep the charade? Hope is a bitch, I guess. So are the dynamics of power and who really wields it. Wasp has been told all her life that she is unique. Essential. That no one can do the job she does, that the goddess Catchkeep is looking after her. Despite this, the Archivist is a dreaded figure, a shunned member of society, living in the outskirts with only the bare essentials, depending on the charity of strangers to sustain herself. She has to fight for her life every year against young, upstarts who have all been branded as children by the Goddess and who live close to squalor. Meanwhile, the priest dude has all the comfort and takes special care to make their lives 100000 times more miserable. The Archivist is told many times she is the chosen one. Yet the duress of her life contradicts this statement on a daily basis. When Wasp meets the ghost of a supersoldier who can talk to her and who engages her help to find another ghost, someone he might have been looking for, everything she thinks she knows will crumble down like a flimsy castle of cards. Please note the word “might” used above because the ghost doesn’t quite remember: the older a ghost is, the least he remembers. He doesn’t even know his own name. And here is what happens next: a buddy trip to the underworld! All of a sudden, the book morphs beautifully into something else. A Quest, a Voyage to the Underworld with a bonus trip down memory lane. Literary. Through the ghost and as an Archivist, Wasp is able to connect with the ghost of the woman they are looking for. More to the point, she is able to access her memories. This aspect of the novel really reminded me one of my favourite Fantasy series – the Dogsland trilogy by J. M. McDermott, by the way. And it’s one of my favourite narrative approaches because in this case, just like in Dogsland, it adds a different layer to the story, two narratives in one, two tales in one, two characters juxtaposed, different and yet not. But Wasp needs to remember something else first as the entrance ticked to the underworld is to recover one of her own memories. Her name. Oh, this moment. YOU GUYS, THIS MOMENT. Have you read Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein? Remember when we learn the name of the main character and how the significance of that reverberates throughout? Because it’s a question of knowing, of identity, of self. And this is at the centre of Archivist Wasp. But also, friendship, partnership, alliances. Between the Ghost and his partner, lost to the memory of eons past. Between the Ghost and Wasp, a slow building friendship without any signs of romance whatsoever, that is painful to read and oh, so beautiful. Because it’s tense. Because it’s desperate. Because it matters so much for both of them. It ends with the actualisation of the revenge fantasy of my dreams. This is very important to me because from the opening pages there is a character – the priest – whom I completely and utterly DESPISED. The ending is amazing in the way that he gets what he deserves. But not in the way I expected. BETTER. Because now the story becomes clear for what it is: a story about agency, freedom and revolution. All of sudden, this book Mad-Max-Fury-Roaded me, like a boss. SO! Incredible characters – fleshed-out, human, complicated: check. Beautiful writing: check. Plot that develops like it was written for me: check. A cool mixture of Fantasy and Science Fiction, because ghosts but also super-soldiers: check and check. Reminiscent of everything I love but completely its own thing, a SF YA like I haven’t read in a while, Archivist Wasp is a book I will treasure. Now, you might be asking yourself: is this yet another 10-rated book for 2015 from The Book Smugglers? WHY, YES. YES IT IS.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Steph Sinclair

    Different, addictive and delicious. Review to come.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eon ♒Windrunner♒

    Now that was different. A solid fantasy that was entertaining, but just couldn’t make the transition from good to great. The premise & worldbuilding was fascinating. The characters frustrating. TALK TO EACH OTHER AND SHARE INFORMATION PEOPLE! Also, share this information with me too! So many questions are raised by the intriguing premise, but NOTHING ever gets answered. Who? What? Where? When? How? Forget it buddy, move on. Throughout the book I found myself vacillating on the rating. One star. F Now that was different. A solid fantasy that was entertaining, but just couldn’t make the transition from good to great. The premise & worldbuilding was fascinating. The characters frustrating. TALK TO EACH OTHER AND SHARE INFORMATION PEOPLE! Also, share this information with me too! So many questions are raised by the intriguing premise, but NOTHING ever gets answered. Who? What? Where? When? How? Forget it buddy, move on. Throughout the book I found myself vacillating on the rating. One star. Five stars. Two Stars. Four stars. Three stars. Repeat. Twenty unputdownable pages. Forty slow as molasses pages. Repeat. And then there were the one or two moments of cluelessness regarding what in the hell was happening. I thought I must have skipped a couple of pages at least twice, but nope. Eventually you get a handle on what is going on, but I am not sure why the author intentionally wrote it that way. For a book of its size, I expected the pages to fly by. Alas. Didn’t happen. Enjoyable, but oh what could have been…

  6. 5 out of 5

    Justine

    This book. There is something quite personal about this book, which is a heart wrenching story of loneliness, loyalty, and unfufilled longing. Nicole Kornher-Stace has woven a profoundly imaginative tale that rivals the blend of fantasy and reality that I have come to associate with Frances Hardinge. That is pretty well the highest praise I can give anyone. This is one of my favourite books of 2015.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle (needs a break)

    2.5 stars Full, somewhat spoilery review here Did I love this? Did I hate this? HECK IF I KNOW. A LIST OF THINGS I LIKED ABOUT ARCHIVIST WASP 1. The Premise - Kornher-Stace clearly has a gift for ideas. The blurb and early reviews promised me originality, and that's exactly what I got. Basically, Archivist Wasp is about a girl named, you guessed it, Wasp. Wasp is an Archivist - a person who hunts and studies ghosts before releasing them from limbo so that they can find eternal peace with Go 2.5 stars Full, somewhat spoilery review here Did I love this? Did I hate this? HECK IF I KNOW. A LIST OF THINGS I LIKED ABOUT ARCHIVIST WASP 1. The Premise - Kornher-Stace clearly has a gift for ideas. The blurb and early reviews promised me originality, and that's exactly what I got. Basically, Archivist Wasp is about a girl named, you guessed it, Wasp. Wasp is an Archivist - a person who hunts and studies ghosts before releasing them from limbo so that they can find eternal peace with Goddess Catchkeep. For some absurd reason, Wasp's dealings with Catchkeep reminded me a little bit of Catherine Fisher's The Oracle Prophesies, which is why I even picked this book up in the first place. (Well, that and the pretty cover. I am such a shmuck. God.) Obviously, Archivist Wasp turned out to be nothing at all like The Oracle Prophesies. Not that I was expecting anything otherwise. 2. The (lack of) Romance - Finally a duo that don't end up falling into the bottomless insta-love pit! Finally! The relationship between Wasp and the ghost (we literally never learn his name) is purely platonic. They're comrades, hesitant buddies; they find a little bit of themselves in each other. The ghost is very clearly in love with friend he wants Wasp to find, and Wasp doesn't really seem to have given romance much thought. SO REFRESHING. 3. The Writing - It wasn't perfect. There were times when it got a little too clunky and a little bit redundant, and I ended up skipping paragraphs. But for the most part, the writing was compelling. I think that's a big reason why this book didn't make it onto the DNF pile. The writing was compelling, the premise intrigued me. A LIST OF THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT ARCHIVIST WASP 1. The Characters - There was nothing wrong with the characters. I think they had a lot of potential. But here's the thing, we didn't get to know them very well. Beyond the fact that Wasp is weary and the Ghost is desperate, I knew nothing else about about these characters. Or, at least, nothing that would help me care about them. Kornher-Stace took more pains to explain the state of the world to the readers than she did to make us give a damn. Which, personally, I think was a huge mistake, because this story is carried by these two characters. Wasp and the Ghost. I would have liked this so much better if I'd given a crap. 2.The Pacing/Content - This is probably the book's biggest letdown. It moved too fast and too slow at the same time. There were lots of tedious bits, and portions of text that didn't really matter because some variation of the same exact thing had been mentioned before. If properly paced, this book could have been great. But it's biggest issue was that 268 pages just wasn't enough to tell the story that needed to be told. The story felt compressed and lacking, as if there was some important piece of the puzzle Kornher-Stace had decided not to include. 3.The Magic Elements - The reason why I couldn't shelf this book according to genre was because, well, I don't know where to put it. It's not sci-fi, it's not supernatural or fantasy. It's been shelved as Speculative Fiction on goodreads, but since I don't really have any experience with that genre, I didn't feel too comfortable shelving it under the SpecFic tag. YA and Dystopian are as categorical as I'm going to get with this one. Sorry. Magic was alluded at throughout the novel. From the Archivist's coat, to the dagger, to Catchkeep herself and the other gods. But there was nothing tying any of this to the rest of the book's sci-fi-ness. Sure, it served as a way to explain how Wasp was able to get into the underworld, etc, etc. but other than that, there was no point to it. Except for The Ghost, all the other souls of the departed seemed like last minute ideas - something the author tacked on towards the end of her planning to make all of the goings-on in the book seem a little more believable. It didn't work for me. I was disappointed. WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS TO ANYONE? If what you're looking for is a compelling, not necessarily bad, original read? Yes. Definitely. Based on originality and creativity alone, this does not disappoint. But if you're looking for a book that'll make you care about its characters, give you solid, structurally sound world-building, and a story that doesn't confuse the fuck out of you every know and again, then no. I would not recommend it. Pass this one by.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Susan Gualtier

    Welcome to one of the strangest and most wonderful books you will ever read. I wanted it never to end. I'm almost sorry that I ever gave another book 5 stars, because now 5 stars don't seem to be enough for this one. This is the rare piece of post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn't feel like it's trying too hard. I think it's been categorized as YA based on the age of the protagonist, but it's not at all written with an eye to the teenage experience, and contains none of the usual YA tropes. Instea Welcome to one of the strangest and most wonderful books you will ever read. I wanted it never to end. I'm almost sorry that I ever gave another book 5 stars, because now 5 stars don't seem to be enough for this one. This is the rare piece of post-apocalyptic fiction that doesn't feel like it's trying too hard. I think it's been categorized as YA based on the age of the protagonist, but it's not at all written with an eye to the teenage experience, and contains none of the usual YA tropes. Instead, it's a fairy tale, a ghost story, a myth, a parable about both the enduring power of friendship and the importance of individual autonomy. From the first page, the world feels both ancient and real, yet tied only loosely to our own, if at all - I've never applied the word "mythic" to anything, but it's the only adequate word that comes to mind. Wasp, as a character, is phenomenal. She is the first female character I've encountered in a long time who has not the slightest hint of a Mary Sue. There's no way she can serve as a stand-in for the reader, because the reader has next to nothing in common with her. At the same time, there's something universally identifiable about her. She's the rare female "redeemable monster" - we see this archetype frequently with male characters, but rarely with female ones (if you're a fan of Helena on Orphan Black, you will absolutely adore Wasp.) The nameless ghost that Wasp agrees to accompany on its quest through the underworld is equally compelling. His story takes parts of the book into more conventional sci-fi, which is jarring at first but works perfectly with the overall story arc and reminds us that, despite its mythological feel, this world is truly intended to be post-apocalyptic and post-technological. The world of this book is brutal, but not so much as to be depressing or off-putting. For all of the darkness and frightening imagery, there is real magic as well. The writing is astounding - I won't say beautiful, because there's a certain coarseness about the language, which can't be described as pretty but which I absolutely loved. Flowery language would only have dragged this story down. I read about this book on Tor.com, and thank all the gods I did. I don't know why it hasn't been getting more press. At the same time, I almost hope that it stays under the radar, away from those who would criticize its lack of YA tropes or refer to it as a "dystopia" (people really need to learn what that word actually means.) I don't want it made into a movie and I don't want a sequel, because it is already perfect. Ultimately, though, I wish Nicole Kornher-Stace every possible success. She is a brilliant, visionary writer and I will read everything she has written and has yet to write. Archivist Wasp deserves to become an instant classic of the science fiction genre. Run, run, run to your bookstore, buy it, give the author all your money, set aside a weekend to do nothing but lose yourself in this story, and prepare to be amazed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Very strange. Wasp is the Archivist, an honored but feared position as the Chosen of the goddess Catchkeep. Which is not fantastic because it's a position that she has to maintain by fighting challengers to the death every year. The Archivists deal with the ghosts that saturate the post-apocalyptic landscape where she lives. After her latest challenges Wasp is at the end of her rope when she encounters an incredibly powerful ghost who convinces her to help him. They take a journey through the gho Very strange. Wasp is the Archivist, an honored but feared position as the Chosen of the goddess Catchkeep. Which is not fantastic because it's a position that she has to maintain by fighting challengers to the death every year. The Archivists deal with the ghosts that saturate the post-apocalyptic landscape where she lives. After her latest challenges Wasp is at the end of her rope when she encounters an incredibly powerful ghost who convinces her to help him. They take a journey through the ghostlands to help the ghost find his companion. In the process Wasp finds out a great deal about herself and the world around her. As I said, very strange. Wasp's story is satisfying, as is the story of her ghost, and they go together weirdly well. The two couldn't have more different backgrounds, but the parallels are strong. The ancient experimental super-soldier and the stubborn woman not far removed from an abused girl have much in common and have a lot to learn from each other. I do have frustrations with this book though, chief among them being that you never get answers to the obvious questions. I'm still not entirely sure what to make of this one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Francesca Forrest

    Reading Archivist Wasp is like navigating an intense, harrowing nightmare in the company of a true friend. Wasp, the young heroine, is the true friend, though she doesn’t know it. Her role—as recorder of ghosts and their ways, and (more importantly for her town) an executioner of them—means she’s a friendless outcast. She achieved her position by killing the last archivist, and three times a year, other young girls try to do the same to her. Her life has made her suspicious and untrusting, but f Reading Archivist Wasp is like navigating an intense, harrowing nightmare in the company of a true friend. Wasp, the young heroine, is the true friend, though she doesn’t know it. Her role—as recorder of ghosts and their ways, and (more importantly for her town) an executioner of them—means she’s a friendless outcast. She achieved her position by killing the last archivist, and three times a year, other young girls try to do the same to her. Her life has made her suspicious and untrusting, but from the very first, she shows gruff compassion for the ghosts and humans she encounters. Her compassion (and her curiosity, and, okay, a bit of self interest) lead her to agree to help a ghost supersoldier who does something no other ghost she or any of her predecessors have ever met could do: talk. He wants to find his comrade in arms, also a ghost. So Wasp embarks on a journey to the underworld. The rest of the book unfolds Wasp’s own past and the past of her ghost companion and his friend, in a mutable landscape, pursued by terrors from Wasp’s life in the land of the living. As they search for the ghost’s friend, they themselves become friends—Wasp’s first experience of friendship. The pacing is perfect, and one scene in particular, where the ghosts whom Wasp has spared over the years come to her aid, was especially moving. The language throughout is sharp, powerful, beautiful: And maybe that’s all a ghost is, in the end. Regret, grown legs, gone walking. There’s a sequel in the works. I’m very curious to see where Nicole takes us next.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Gascoyne

    This was quite astonishing. I am lucky to have found it: I happened to read a rave review from @TheBookSmuggler on Twitter, then, when I came in here, discovered that my friend @FrancescaForrest had also reviewed it with a five star rating. I am so happy to have discovered it! It is certainly one of the most strikingly original novels I've read for a long time, and I have a feeling that it's going to stay with me. Wasp is an Archivist. She became one by killing the previous Archivist, and she rem This was quite astonishing. I am lucky to have found it: I happened to read a rave review from @TheBookSmuggler on Twitter, then, when I came in here, discovered that my friend @FrancescaForrest had also reviewed it with a five star rating. I am so happy to have discovered it! It is certainly one of the most strikingly original novels I've read for a long time, and I have a feeling that it's going to stay with me. Wasp is an Archivist. She became one by killing the previous Archivist, and she remains one by fighting off (and sometimes killing) "upstarts," girls (they are always girls) who serve the Catchkeep priest. She protects the people of her community from ghosts, but her life is one of privation and hardship. One day hunting ghosts, she meets one who speaks to her and asks for her help finding another ghost. So begins a quest to the underworld through a bleak and almost surreal landscape. I can't really say much more without spoilers, but suffice it to say that this is a powerful, grave and beautiful novel. It strips life to the bones and shows us what is left. It's probably not to everyone's taste, not least because, although it seems to be billed as a YA novel, it pushes none of the usual YA buttons. It's unlike almost anything I've read before. Not many will recognize the reference (Francesca, I'm sure you will), but this novel reminded me most of a strange and equally original children's book: Drujienna's Harp, by Ellen Kindt McKenzie.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    To be entirely fair about this book, I probably had higher expectations because had liked one of the author's more adult fare. So I said to myself, "Hey, look at that wild cover and ignore the YA blurb. Check it out and try not to weep!" So I finally did. And here's something I can honestly say about it: It's competently written and fits all the right popular stereotypes for the type of angry, knife-wielding, Post-Apoc girl who finds herself in a difficult position with the "enemy" and eventually To be entirely fair about this book, I probably had higher expectations because had liked one of the author's more adult fare. So I said to myself, "Hey, look at that wild cover and ignore the YA blurb. Check it out and try not to weep!" So I finally did. And here's something I can honestly say about it: It's competently written and fits all the right popular stereotypes for the type of angry, knife-wielding, Post-Apoc girl who finds herself in a difficult position with the "enemy" and eventually has to work with him and trust him deeply as she figures out that the place she grew up was actually evil and now she has to defeat... oooh blah blah blah. Look. Aside from the ghost-hunting premise with its cool reveal, this book is pretty much a carbon copy of 40 others that I can personally name because I read them already. It's annoying to read the same book over and over and over. So while this book was competently written, my enjoyment of it was severely hampered by its unity with a whole class of "angry girl with blade" YA literature. Sigh. It's me, not you, Archivist Wasp.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Noelle

    If this book is weird, it is my kind of weird. Part mystery, part odd couple quest, part search of identity and forging human (or sometimes not quite human anymore) connections, the power of compassion and friendship....the whole thing just spoke to me. I cried a little and cheered a lot. I loved every bittersweet, beautiful word.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    A little gem of a book, so odd and yet so wonderful.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Iina

    How on Earth am I going to review this book? While I was reading Archivist Wasp, I was adoring the language, hating the all unanswered questions, respecting the bold concept, but also a bit bored from time to time. The relationship that I formed with the novel is one of those I-hate-you-but-I-love kinds, so I apologise my (most likely) incoherent ramblings. First of all, Archivist Wasp was so different than I expected it to be! It's classified as a young adult novel on Goodreads, even though I pe How on Earth am I going to review this book? While I was reading Archivist Wasp, I was adoring the language, hating the all unanswered questions, respecting the bold concept, but also a bit bored from time to time. The relationship that I formed with the novel is one of those I-hate-you-but-I-love kinds, so I apologise my (most likely) incoherent ramblings. First of all, Archivist Wasp was so different than I expected it to be! It's classified as a young adult novel on Goodreads, even though I personally would see it as an adult fiction book. But putting that aside, this book was so unique. I don't think I've ever read a novel that was a dystopian, science-fiction, paranormal, and post-apocalyptic all at the same time. I don't usually like books to mash up genres so daringly, but I have to respect the ambition to create something completely diverging from the generic YA scene. I think the author succeeded in knitting the genres together seamlessly, and to my surprise I was quite enjoying the mix of different themes of the genres. But I had sooooo many questions about the plot and the characters, and even though I usually enjoy ambivalence, this time it was frustrating. What was the story behind Catchkeep-priest (Wasp's superior) and his motivations? How come the Archivist structure was so successful for such a long time? Why finding knowledge about the pre-apocalyptic world was so important that a whole society was created around it? How did the ghosts come about, and why they weren't in the pre-apocalyptic world? What was the life of an Upstart (a novice, before you could become an archivist like Wasp) like and how were they prepared for their potential futures? How did the high tech described work?? So many questions, and while some of these were answered, I wasn't very satisfied with the ones that I got. However, despite all the confusion that I couldn't dismiss, I was rather captivated by the whole concept. Wasp was a very solitary being, her life dictated by Catchkeep-priest and the hunting of ghosts to gather knowledge about the world before. And then, the ghost appears who can actually communicate with her comes along and asks for her help (the ghost usually can't communicate at all which obviously intrigues Wasp from the first moment). I found it really fascinating how Wasp and the ghost ventured into afterlife, and how this great beyond was characterised. (Even though I'm also a bit puzzled why Wasp was so eager to help the ghost..) There are plenty of flash-backs (kind of) back to the world before, and that science fiction world presented through the memories was really intriguing. And in fact, that supersoldier world probably was the best part of the novel. But then there is the dark side of the things. Archivist Wasp was also heavily dragging at times. I could be very entertained for a good half an hour while I read, but then the next hour could be quite dull. And this went on and off. On and off. Hence, the love-hate relationship. I really don't know whether I want to give Archivist Wasp 1 star or 5 stars. It definitely requires a second reading, because the writing was very dense at times - it was a very visual and heavy on the inner monologue. In fact, I think I would probably like the book better the second time around. But now, I'm feeling very confused and contradicted. I have to give to the author that the novel was a very different from the generic YA novels (a merit in itself already) and Kornher-Stace clearly is a talented story-teller and writer. I'm a bit of at loss for words here.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Kersten

    I ended up liking this one much more than I thought I would at the start. I'm very curious about the sequel because I thought it ended pretty much perfectly. Rtc I ended up liking this one much more than I thought I would at the start. I'm very curious about the sequel because I thought it ended pretty much perfectly. Rtc

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    This (fabulous) book is getting all kinds of much-deserved love from Kirkus and School Library Journal and whatnot, but seems to be not particularly well-known to the average reader?? Well, y’ALL ARE GONNA LEARN Wasp is a priestess (of sorts) and ghosthunter that strikes a bargain with a long-dead supersoldier’s ghost: she helps him find the ghost of his partner, he gives her what she needs to gain her freedom from the shrine and priest to which she is beholden. I stumbled on this one while visiti This (fabulous) book is getting all kinds of much-deserved love from Kirkus and School Library Journal and whatnot, but seems to be not particularly well-known to the average reader?? Well, y’ALL ARE GONNA LEARN Wasp is a priestess (of sorts) and ghosthunter that strikes a bargain with a long-dead supersoldier’s ghost: she helps him find the ghost of his partner, he gives her what she needs to gain her freedom from the shrine and priest to which she is beholden. I stumbled on this one while visiting School Library Journal’s blog, and was immediately drawn to it because of the title (I am always interested in the doings of fictional librarians and archivists). I’m so glad I clicked the link to Karyn Silverman’s review, because I love this book so much. It’s a post-apocalyptic fairy tale about damaged people trying to be more and better than the roles they’ve been forced into. It’s a story of friendship and love and loss and memory, and it is wonderful. The worldbuilding and characterization are so subtle and natural; the reader doesn’t learn everything there is to know about Wasp’s world because why would she be thinking in great detail about the villagers she doesn’t know (and who hate her) or the religion she knows far too well, when her only real concern is escape? Speaking of Wasp, I really, really love her. Her world has made her bitter and ruthless, but, despite – and, in some ways, because of – the horrible things happening to her and those around her, she has an incredible capacity for kindness. She is a tough, buff grumpmuffin who refuses to be broken completely, and I love that she’s still mentally writing field notes even when she’s frightened (because she’s an archivist, dammit). Wasp has a lot of depth, and I thoroughly enjoyed her character arc. A+ lady. And the ending (view spoiler)[was believably happy – hopeful, but not unrealistically so; life is still going to be very hard for these people, but maybe now it things will be a bit better. (hide spoiler)] As far as I know, this is a standalone, which actually works just fine; without saying too much, Wasp’s story could be ended quite satisfyingly here. I’m not sure what else could be done with it, but I would be interested to find out! If nothing else, I’d love to get to read some of the myths that Wasp references throughout the book. EDIT: THERE ARE SEQUELS I NTHE WORKS, OK SO I DEFINITELY NEED SEQUELS NOW AND DID I MENTION THE WRITING?? So beautifully quotable. One of my faves of 2015! Definitely check this one out! (Especially if you like Uprooted. They seem to go together somehow?? Idek.) (originally posted here) 11/22/15 Review to come! For now, I'll just say that this book is fRICKIN EXCELLENT

  18. 4 out of 5

    aja

    so i walked into this book based off the description expecting a queer retelling of the myth of orpheus and eurydice. i did not get this. that being said tho, this is like the only disappointment i finished reading with??? like. the world building is rly cool, the underworld is weird & surreal & creepy as hell and i LOVED it. all the lore is amazing, the different gods, the myth behind the archivist title, the brief glimpses of legends and stories that was group up with. i didn't actually expect th so i walked into this book based off the description expecting a queer retelling of the myth of orpheus and eurydice. i did not get this. that being said tho, this is like the only disappointment i finished reading with??? like. the world building is rly cool, the underworld is weird & surreal & creepy as hell and i LOVED it. all the lore is amazing, the different gods, the myth behind the archivist title, the brief glimpses of legends and stories that was group up with. i didn't actually expect this to be post-apocalyptic, but the way it's written feels different from any other post-apocalyptic thing i've read before. i'm actually like, super impressed with the way it was handled. and the glimpses of the time "before the world died" were p cool too. robots, genetically engineered super soldiers, all that fun stuff. interestingly, smth i realized as i was typing this review up, there is not a single male character in this book that is given an actual name? the only named characters are female. we go the ENTIRE BOOK without learning the ghost's name, and the only other prominent dude is referred to as simply the catchkeeper-priest (catchkeep being their primary god). anyway, i'm like. wicked choked up about the ending actually lmao. not the story thread revolving around the ghost and foster, mind. that ties up almost immediately after they've reached the resolution. but the actual last chapter, i'm like. wow. wasp is a girl who has been groomed & brainwashed & abused since she was a very small baby, (view spoiler)[and in the end she comes back to this town and stands up to her tormentor and she reclaims the city for herself and for the other girls dealing with the same trauma she did. she goes back to the start and makes it her own and completely dismantles the power structures that have been in place for centuries. admittedly, it's written sparingly over the course of literally one chapter, and i wish there had been more depth to it, but it's also incredible satisfying & i'm like wildly emotional over it lmao. (hide spoiler)] for those who needs warnings: page 15, forces herself to vomit contemplates suicide multiple times repeated and graphic child abuse page 82, suffocates to a kind of pseudo-death page 144, brief mention of protag poisoning a dog (one which the catchkeeper-priest has trained since its birth to torment her whenever he wants) page 148, brief mention of catchkeeper-priest drowning dogs graphic depictions of torture and what basically amounts to a lobotomy near the end.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    4.5 This is the story of a girl lost in a lonely, desolate, and bare world; and a girl lost in herself. Wasp is an Archivist, one of a handful of girls selected from a young age to serve in a religious order where she must capture ghosts, learn what she can from them about their lives in the world Before and then dispatch them. It is a good thing to finish them eternally, or so she has been trained to think. Wasp must also battle to the death for her title every year. There is a line of upstarts 4.5 This is the story of a girl lost in a lonely, desolate, and bare world; and a girl lost in herself. Wasp is an Archivist, one of a handful of girls selected from a young age to serve in a religious order where she must capture ghosts, learn what she can from them about their lives in the world Before and then dispatch them. It is a good thing to finish them eternally, or so she has been trained to think. Wasp must also battle to the death for her title every year. There is a line of upstarts looking to become Archivist themselves, and it is also how she herself took the title. She wears the braids of the Archivist before her and of all the upstarts who have challenged her in her own hair. It’s a fierce and brutal world our Wasp inhabits. This is a girl who is kick-ass, both inside and out. She’s a survivor in a world designed to tear her down (literally, though). Wasp has had to fight many battles, but she also battles internally to keep the core sense of herself as a good and decent person. And there is a sense of the potential of epicness that echoes through the landscape of this empty world. It is a world that is haunting and spare and practically yearning to be filled with its lost details. The vast majority of ghosts barely have any form and most can’t muster more than a handful of words. The futility of Wasp’s endless endeavors is a massive burden. When she discovers a ghost both fully formed and fully sentient it is a chance unlike any presented to her before. The ghost is on a centuries-long search to find his missing combat partner. If Wasp will lend her ghost tracking abilities, this ghost will trade her a valuable piece of technology that would allow Wasp to escape her cultish captors. And so Wasp leaves her body behind and descends into the underworld. The rest of this review can be found at The Midnight Garden

  20. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Jagged, complex, full of smoke and peat and mystery, with a sharp clear high finish.

  21. 5 out of 5

    gio

    It took me three days to read this. I read Crooked Kingdom (540 pages) in two. I think that already says a lot about my reading experience. Anyway: 3 - Uhm...weird. Archivist Wasp isn't exactly what I expected, and not in an entirely positive way, I'm afraid. On one hand, this is quite original, and therefore a breath of fresh air in this genre, but honestly? I had so many problems with it. It makes for an entertaining read, but that's pretty much it. The world-building is extremely...nonexistent? It took me three days to read this. I read Crooked Kingdom (540 pages) in two. I think that already says a lot about my reading experience. Anyway: 3 - Uhm...weird. Archivist Wasp isn't exactly what I expected, and not in an entirely positive way, I'm afraid. On one hand, this is quite original, and therefore a breath of fresh air in this genre, but honestly? I had so many problems with it. It makes for an entertaining read, but that's pretty much it. The world-building is extremely...nonexistent? I think we are in a dystopian future of some kind, but hell if I know more. We are not given any information about the society Wasp lives in, aside from her actual job as an Archivist. She hunts ghosts, but that's pretty much what we know about the "magic" system. And this would have probably been fine...when I was 12, maybe and when I hadn't read as much fantasy as I have now. It was rather underwhelming. I appreciated the plot and the journey Wasp had to make before the end, but it wasn't nothing epic nor really that entertaining. I liked it, and I really liked how much that journey made her grow as a person, but it didn't make me feel much to be honest. The characters are a bit flat, their personalities don't exactly shine I suppose. I just didn't grow attached to them. So, well, if you're okay with reading an overall okay book, I suggest giving The Archivist a chance. Me, well, I definitely expected more.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine Sandquist

    This review, and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. It was a decision she’d been making over and over for three years now, and she always reached the same conclusion. She hated being Archivist. Hated being forced to choose between killing upstarts to keep the sacred role she’d grown so tired of and letting herself be killed so that the upstart who killed her could take up that role when she was dead. But if there was one thing she was terrible at doing, it was giving This review, and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks. It was a decision she’d been making over and over for three years now, and she always reached the same conclusion. She hated being Archivist. Hated being forced to choose between killing upstarts to keep the sacred role she’d grown so tired of and letting herself be killed so that the upstart who killed her could take up that role when she was dead. But if there was one thing she was terrible at doing, it was giving up. Archivist Wasp is a strange blend of post-apocalyptic dystopia, ghost hunting, and metaphysical descent into the underworld. My response on completing it can be summarized as “very weird, very good.” Although intriguing, philosophical YA is nothing new, Archivist Wasp takes this to a new level. Nicole Kornher-Stace crafts a world predicated not only on life and death, but also on the interconnectedness of life and our inability to define ourselves without using others as points of reference. None of us live in a vacuum, and the only way to grow and maintain our sense of self is through those we care for.Set long after the apocalypse had rushed through and torn down the world as we know it, Archivist Wasp takes place in a rural town dominated by the local priest. The town is haunted by very real ghosts, who often cause trouble for its inhabitants. The Archivist, who exists under the control of the priest and is chosen by yearly combat trials to the death, handles the ghosts. Wasp, the current Archivist, wants to learn as much as she can from them. She knows very little of the history that led up to her present day, and by studying the ghosts she hopes to gain more insight about how their society formed. Unfortunately, most ghosts are either fully mute or only able to speak a few words on repeat. They are locked in the most intense moments of their lives, unable to escape. They are alone, abandoned, and silenced.Wasp hates this system. She hates being forced to kill or be killed, and she hates the brutality she is forced to inflict on the ghosts themselves. With a few exceptions, the ghosts aren’t hurting anyone - they’re just annoying. When she has the chance, she chooses to release them rather than destroy them. Though she believes in their pantheon, Catchkeep being the patron saint of Archivist, she questions the specific implementation their priest encourages.  “I am the Archivist. Catchkeep’s emissary, ambassador, and avatar on earth. Her bones and stars my flesh; my flesh and bones Her stars. Mine is the mouth through which the dead world speaks. Mine are the hands that record what the dead world left behind. Mine are the eyes that hold vigil, so that the old world’s death does not return to kill the world anew. Protect me, Catchkeep, until another stands before You here, as I stand where another stood. Protect me so that I can do Your work, until my flesh fails, until my bones fail, leaving only Your stars, which light the earth forever.” When Wasp is sent out on a routine errand to catch a young ghost for the local midwife, this works out in her favor when she encounters and strangely strong and highly-realized ghost. When she discovers that he is not one of the mindless, senseless ghosts she is used to, she’s shocked to her core. He can think. He can speak. And he needs her help.The ghost has lost his dearest friend in the ghost world, the underworld, the unnamed purgatory which all souls must pass through. Without her, he is slowly losing his memories and his own sense of identity. He enlists Wasp to help him traverse the underworld and to keep him grounded as he does so. He uses her as a mirror to himself, using her skills as Archivist to help rather than harm. The book descends into a literal and metaphorical hell, as Wasp uncovers secrets pertaining to her own origin and confronts her personal demons. With each new revelation, the fabric of the society and reality she knows frays that much more until, suddenly, it lies in a heap of unraveled thread on the ground. “I had to kill people to get here. I have to kill people to stay here. And I’ll be stuck here until they figure out how to kill me. The door out of this place is my grave. You want to find a ghost? Here’s ghosts.” She tore the pin from her hair, shook out the black-brown-red-blond of it, and the room filled with a carrion stink that she may or may not have been imagining. “There’s some more.” She flung her hand toward the piles of paper that were her life’s work and the life’s work of all the Archivists before her, violently shortened lives though they’d been. “And out there in the dark? They go on forever. Why don’t you go take your pick. You want my help? You tried to kill me. So you can just—” “That,” said the ghost, unperturbed, “was an accident.” The priest is not who she thought. She is not who she thought. The upstarts who challenge her to the death in bids to become Archivist each year are not who they thought. In a somewhat Biblical parallel, she will rise from the dead and bring them the truth - that the violence they base their life on is manufactured to ensure the comfort of those who perch at the top. Wasp will tear this down, and bring them together, for only in togetherness is there a sense of self and personhood.Within the underworld, these personal connections define everything. It’s impossible to travel from one location to another without being able to form a bridge of memory and connection with each location. The metaphorical becomes substantial and real here, and as memories fade with distance and lack of contact… it becomes harder to reconnect. Although Wasp is able to use her Archivist tools to resurrect some of the memories buried deepest in the ghost to reconstruct his past and bring him closer to his friend, this takes a toll on her. The line that connects her to the physical world becomes thinner and thinner as she binds herself closer and closer to the underworld. It stood. “We’re going to find her. And when we do, if she wants me to walk away, I’ll walk away. But first I need to talk to her. One last time.” Of course you do, Wasp thought. You’re a ghost. You need answers. You need closure. You need them like the living need air to breathe. You think it’s just you, but from what I’ve seen, most of us die without getting either. And maybe that’s all a ghost is, in the end. Regret, grown legs, gone walking. Although they are incredibly different in tone, prose, and structure, the book that came to mind most while I read Archivist Wasp was Among Others by Jo Walton. The themes of connection and the need for a community, a karass, had a similar feel. Where Among Others focuses on the slow and quiet aspects of connection, Archivist Wasp pulls us into conflict and explores how parallel goals and missions can bring people together. They’re certainly aimed at very different audiences and tastes, but tell an oddly similar story at the end of the day.One of the things I liked best about Archivist Wasp, unlike Among Others, was that it avoided romance altogether. It would have been very, very easy to turn this into a love triangle between Wasp, the ghost, and the ghost’s friend. Instead, it’s a wonderful example of aromantic asexual representation that’s focused on friendship between men and women. It’s a parable about how dividing ourselves from one another hurts us and makes us lesser than we were before, and about how coming together in friendship and interconnectedness makes us more ourselves. It’s strange, and good, and odd, and oddly kind in the way it transforms two victims of brutal societies and origins into one unified team. Highly recommended to fans of the odd and offbeat.Although this book has a sequel, titled Latchkey, Archivist Wasp can be read as a stand-alone novel.  This review, and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    This is going on my list of favorite books this year. It's also one of the strangest, most evocative books I've read this year and one I fully intend to re-read. I'm having trouble reviewing it without just retelling the story; even explaining the background (essential to understanding what happens) takes up more time than a review ought. The highlights: Wasp is a young woman who lives in a postapocalyptic far-future in which the religion of Catchkeep, and its priest, dominates the town where she This is going on my list of favorite books this year. It's also one of the strangest, most evocative books I've read this year and one I fully intend to re-read. I'm having trouble reviewing it without just retelling the story; even explaining the background (essential to understanding what happens) takes up more time than a review ought. The highlights: Wasp is a young woman who lives in a postapocalyptic far-future in which the religion of Catchkeep, and its priest, dominates the town where she lives. Wasp is the Archivist, tasked with collecting, studying, and destroying ghosts. She is feared by the townspeople, hated by the other girls who hope someday to take her place by killing her (as the alternative is brutality and death), and dominated by the Catchkeep-priest, a vicious man who delights in seeing others suffer. Wasp isn't like the other Archivists, and when an unusual ghost contacts her--no other ghost has ever spoken--she sees in it the possibility of escaping her bleak future. The setting is magnificently, terribly realistic. Wasp and the ghost (who never has a name, though it's the spirit of a young man) travel through this shifting realm pursued by nightmares, learning how to unravel the mysteries of the land as well as the nature of ghosts, and I was swept away by its strangeness and beauty. The ghost's true agenda, as well as the story of the woman he's seeking, unfold gradually, which kept my curiosity engaged throughout. I'm a sucker for a good dystopian/postapocalyptic story, and this is the old-fashioned kind: there is no romance, no romanticizing of the current era, just strong themes of friendship and loyalty and a very satisfying ending. There are things I felt were inadequately explained, such as why there were even ghosts in the first place--where did they come from? And how was the ghost able to carry solid objects? (view spoiler)[And at the end, when they "rescue" Catherine, she and the ghost seem to have regained their memories, but earlier it's said that the ghost has been gradually losing itself and that this is the fate of all ghosts. So how will they remain coherent enough to offer Wasp a chance to join them, when she decides? (hide spoiler)] But overall my concerns and questions were afterthoughts, and I was deeply satisfied by this book. It makes me grateful for smaller presses, one of which took a chance on this unusual but brilliant book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Moyer

    I actually finished this after midnight on Monday. The entire time I was reading Archivist Wasp I kept thinking "Oh...this book. THIS BOOK." And while that--and a few oh...my heart for variety--are an actuate reflection of my response, they aren't very useful as a review. While I tend to react emotionally to books and talk about them in emotional terms, others want something more. Yeah, I don't understand it either. Go figure. Archivist Wasp is the story of Wasp, a young woman whose job and sole r I actually finished this after midnight on Monday. The entire time I was reading Archivist Wasp I kept thinking "Oh...this book. THIS BOOK." And while that--and a few oh...my heart for variety--are an actuate reflection of my response, they aren't very useful as a review. While I tend to react emotionally to books and talk about them in emotional terms, others want something more. Yeah, I don't understand it either. Go figure. Archivist Wasp is the story of Wasp, a young woman whose job and sole reason for continuing to exist is to catch ghosts, record their behavior, and then destroy the ghost when she's learned all she can. Wasp became the archivist by challenging and killing the archivist before her. She's survived--barely--three challenges herself, and is pretty sure she won't survive another. Wasp and the upstarts striving to replace her are watched, starved, and abused by the Catchkeep Priest, a truly evil man who holds their lives in his hands. One day Wasp finds a ghost unlike any ghost she's ever found, and unlike any ghost recorded in the boxes of field notes left by the generations of archivists that came before her. The ghost changes her life. Wasp gives him back the most important thing he ever had, and lost. Set in what's left of the world after the world ended, this is a book about lies and betrayal, loss and redemption, of hanging on against all odds, and how discovering who you were, teaches you who you can become. It's about compassion, and finding strength in no longer being afraid. The best books are hard to talk about without giving spoilers. Archivist Wasp is one of those books. You should all go read this book, and then tell your friends to read it too.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brigid ✩

    Short Review: Hmm, I may have to digest this one a bit and see if it sticks with me or not. The thing is, there were things I really admired about it––interesting world-building, an intriguing backstory, some beautifully-written passages ... It was an addicting read, and though the first chunk of it was a little rough for me, for the last half of it or so I was pretty engrossed in it. But I don't know, it just felt like something was missing? It just felt a little ... dry, I guess. Although I was Short Review: Hmm, I may have to digest this one a bit and see if it sticks with me or not. The thing is, there were things I really admired about it––interesting world-building, an intriguing backstory, some beautifully-written passages ... It was an addicting read, and though the first chunk of it was a little rough for me, for the last half of it or so I was pretty engrossed in it. But I don't know, it just felt like something was missing? It just felt a little ... dry, I guess. Although I was interested in the story and its setting, the characters themselves were not all that interesting. I feel like there was so much potential for them to be interesting but I never felt like any of them had much of a personality, and on top of that I didn't find the dialogue very compelling. So, over all I had mixed feelings. I will try to get into more detail when/if I write a longer review for this. Full Review: ~coming eventually~

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    The Good: An utterly dark, haunted setting, with some cool ideas. This is set after the apocalypse, and follows a young woman with a job that doesn’t exist yet (though I suspect anthropologists might disagree). The protagonist is badass. The Bad: The story is confusing. It starts out with unanswered questions and stays that way. The fantasy elements of the setting are so arbitrary that it’s hard to follow cause-and-effect. Why do things happen? Far too often this question isn’t addressed in the boo The Good: An utterly dark, haunted setting, with some cool ideas. This is set after the apocalypse, and follows a young woman with a job that doesn’t exist yet (though I suspect anthropologists might disagree). The protagonist is badass. The Bad: The story is confusing. It starts out with unanswered questions and stays that way. The fantasy elements of the setting are so arbitrary that it’s hard to follow cause-and-effect. Why do things happen? Far too often this question isn’t addressed in the book. There is also more than enough angst. All the principal characters feel very sorry for themselves. 'Friends' character the protagonist is most like: Wasp is like Phoebe without all the cute antics.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Kornher-Stace

    Not a review! Six years later I finally think to do this and have time to do it simultaneously! Better late than never? So I wanted to talk a minute about how this book came into being, how it was intended as a standalone, and how that proceeded to get entirely out of hand (zero regrets). I wrote Archivist Wasp in 2012, but it goes back to oh god 1995? when the character of the ghost landed in my head fully-formed. I still don't know where he came from. I was a twelve-year-old baby writer and comi Not a review! Six years later I finally think to do this and have time to do it simultaneously! Better late than never? So I wanted to talk a minute about how this book came into being, how it was intended as a standalone, and how that proceeded to get entirely out of hand (zero regrets). I wrote Archivist Wasp in 2012, but it goes back to oh god 1995? when the character of the ghost landed in my head fully-formed. I still don't know where he came from. I was a twelve-year-old baby writer and coming up with characters was my absolute weakest point, craft-wise, for the entire decade to come...with this one glaring exception, who I just kind of ignored for a while because I had no idea what book he belonged in. He didn't show up with any kind of story stuff attached to him, and he wasn't a ghost yet. Just this dude who took up residence in my head and didn't want to leave. Fast-forward to 2010 or so, when I was reading The Golden Bough at the same time as playing Fallout 3, and Wasp's world (and her character) showed up unannounced and demanded I write them. So I tried, got a few chapters in, and it fizzled out. I had no plot yet, no secondary characters, just a whole pile of worldbuilding and the motives of one cranky ghosthunter. I spent a while stalled out, pondering various false starts, before it occurred to me that this other character, who'd been waiting in my head for fifteen years at this point biding his time, belonged in this book. And if Wasp was a ghosthunter, then what if this other guy was a ghost? I first thought of this in a kind of self-deprecating in-joke way: all my favorite characters always die, so I could write this one as having been dead all along. But very very soon I realized that I suddenly had a story. And once I got past that point, I drafted it within about five weeks, by far the fastest I'd ever written anything up until that point. Years later, Firebreak would be faster--same draft time on a manuscript twice the length--but for now this was pretty impressive for my standards. So against all odds, I sold the draft of this weird semisurreal little ghosthunter/ghost Unlikely Alliance Enemies-to-Besties Quest Into the Underworld story, and it got turned into a book! A real book! A book that went on to do a whole lot better for itself than I'd ever anticipated (especially given the rather lengthy ordeal it was to find a home for it: it was Weird and totally ignored the possibility of romance tropes and centered two strong friendships instead and that just made it more Weird, I guess), landing on lots of year's-best lists and being shortlisted for the Norton Award. Before all that, though--before publication, even--something else became abundantly clear. These characters--and the worlds of this book--were not done with me. Not even close. I'd barely turned in the final edits before I started getting ambushed by random scenes and bits of dialogue that I at first thought belonged in Archivist Wasp and I'd just missed my chance to add them in. After about a dozen instances of this, though, I realized what I was looking at was a sequel. That thing I had no intention of writing. And as soon as I opened the door on that idea, I had an overarching plot arc for...not two books...but three. The dreaded trilogy!! So I wrote a sequel. It's called Latchkey and it takes place three years after AW and it is a bigger less surreal more actiony story while also being fuller of Character Feels. What's been hilarious is that occasionally people will suggest to me that I wrote it--a sequel to a tiny book that nobody has heard of--as a "money grab." First of all, even if it was, so what? And second of all, it would have been literally the world's most ineffectual money grab. It, like its predecessor (and book three, currently a work-in-progress on my patreon) is a labor of love, full stop, the end. The dream is to publish all three as a single-volume trilogy. I can already see the cover art I want for it! Meanwhile, remember how I said the characters and world(s) weren't done with me? I wasn't kidding. Everything I've published ever since has been connected in some way to things that existed first in this book. (The fact that this tiny book has three totally distinct settings, and characters who exist thousands of years apart from each other, really made this way too easy.) So my two 2021 books, Firebreak and Jillian vs Parasite Planet, both share universe continuity, as do the novellas "Last Chance" and "Pathfinding!" And I'm nowhere near done yet. I love working with these worlds and these characters, and watching them find their readers over the past six years has been immensely satisfying. But this is where it all started. With a ghosthunter and her specimen, up a mountain in the dead of winter, trying to murder each other's faces off. <3

  28. 4 out of 5

    Acordul Fin

    If a ghost was a recording of a memory, as some believed, and Wasp pulled back the curtain from the third alcove on the right, she might find the wide-eyed bloody-handed ghost of herself, hugging her knees and shivering, trying to unremember the sound of her little dagger sinking hilt-deep into girlflesh, the day she earned her name. I was intrigued by the odd and rather unique premise. Unfortunately, I didn't end up enjoying it. The characters felt pretty lifeless, in a style over su If a ghost was a recording of a memory, as some believed, and Wasp pulled back the curtain from the third alcove on the right, she might find the wide-eyed bloody-handed ghost of herself, hugging her knees and shivering, trying to unremember the sound of her little dagger sinking hilt-deep into girlflesh, the day she earned her name. I was intrigued by the odd and rather unique premise. Unfortunately, I didn't end up enjoying it. The characters felt pretty lifeless, in a style over substance kind of way. While in theory I was excited about Wasp helping a ghost who had been looking for his friend for centuries, their relationship and journey felt pretty disjointed and rambly to me. There were also many questions left unanswered. We never find out how this fantasy/post-apocalyptic world came to be, I would have loved some details about that. The ending is wrapped up to neatly in a nice little bow.

  29. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! One of the many things I love about me large and diverse crew is the little-known fantastic treasures that they bring me way. This be one of them. I found out about the book from matey Sarah @ theillustratedpage. Her thoughts: "Have you read Archivist Wasp? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s a striking, post-apocalyptic, ghost-hunting body novel that tells a deeply intense story without even a hint of romance. Latchkey is a follow-up, taking place three years later. I s Ahoy there me mateys! One of the many things I love about me large and diverse crew is the little-known fantastic treasures that they bring me way. This be one of them. I found out about the book from matey Sarah @ theillustratedpage. Her thoughts: "Have you read Archivist Wasp? If you haven’t, you really should. It’s a striking, post-apocalyptic, ghost-hunting body novel that tells a deeply intense story without even a hint of romance. Latchkey is a follow-up, taking place three years later. I strongly suggest reading Archivist Wasp first . . ." Well that certainly struck me fancy. So I commandeered a copy and found a gem. This book follows Wasp, who is the latest in a long line of archivists. For over four hundred years, these women have been catching ghosts for the purposes of study and research. But being an archivist is not easy. First of all ye train yer entire life for the chance to duel to the death for the position of archivist. But once ye have the position, ye have to fight every year to keep it. It is a position with little to recommend it. Ye are an outcast who lives on the edge of town and survives on the scraps of offerings left by the other villagers. There are no friends, no family, and a not very nice overseeing priest that seems to purposely go out of his way to make yer life miserable. And of course there are the ghosts. These creatures must be captured and studied. The world is in a ruin and ghosts may be the only way to determine not only what happened in the Time Before but how to improve living conditions. But ghost hunting is dangerous and Wasp has the scars to prove it. Wasp fought for her place with determination. But now that she is the archivist, all she can focus on is how much her position brings her despair. She is torn between the possibilities of finding new information from the ghosts and trying to escape her life of servitude. Life is harsh and miserable and all Wasp wants is a ray of hope. What she finds instead is a new strong type of ghost unlike any she has ever seen before or even read about. This ghost can talk! And he wants her to hunt down another ghost he lost track of. What Wasp discovers on these journey has implications to change how she sees herself and the world-at-large. And here is where words fail me. I was immediately struck by Wasp’s tenacity from the first pages. The world building was surreal and fierce and compelling. The ghostly world was described in such a way that made it seem as though the human brain could barely rationalize the realities therein. Even with all of Wasp’s training and knowledge, there was only so much she could understand. And the side character of the ghost was just wonderful. Further description would lessen the reader’s experience of savouring the book for themselves. Just know that I absolutely loved how this one resolved itself. I will certainly be readin’ book two! Arrrrr! Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    Wasn't vibing with this one. It was a quick enough read, but...the dystopian post-apocalyptic worldbuilding, the characters, the plot of searching for a ghost's dead friend through the underworld, the revelations, there was nothing I truly connected to. The atmosphere I outright disliked. While it's not a bad book techincally speaking, everything felt fairly thin and honestly I'm not sure why I even finished it. Enjoyment: 2/5 Execution: 3/5 More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds. Wasn't vibing with this one. It was a quick enough read, but...the dystopian post-apocalyptic worldbuilding, the characters, the plot of searching for a ghost's dead friend through the underworld, the revelations, there was nothing I truly connected to. The atmosphere I outright disliked. While it's not a bad book techincally speaking, everything felt fairly thin and honestly I'm not sure why I even finished it. Enjoyment: 2/5 Execution: 3/5 More reviews on my blog, To Other Worlds.

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