The Archive of the Forgotten
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
"The Library of the Unwritten in Hell was saved from total devastation, but hundreds of potential books were destroyed. Former librarian Claire and Brevity the muse feel the loss of those stories, and are trying to adjust to their new roles within the Arcane Wing and Library, respectively. But when the remains of those books begin to leak a strange ink, Claire realizes that the Library has kept secrets from Hell--and from its own librarians.
Claire and Brevity are immediately at odds in their approach to the ink, and the potential power that it represents has not gone unnoticed. When a representative from the Muses Corps arrives at the Library to advise Brevity, the angel Rami and the erstwhile Hero hunt for answers in other realms. The true nature of the ink could fundamentally alter the afterlife for good or ill, but it entirely depends on who is left to hold the pen."
The Archive of the Forgotten is the second installment in Hell's Library, a fantasy series by A.J. Hackwith.
I will admit, this book took me months to read. I started this around October and November but I just didn't have the motivation to read full-length books so I put it off. Despite that though, I had no issue jumping right back in which goes to show that the story is at least memorable. Overall, I found this to be an okay book.
Now, let's get into the details.
The writing was easy to digest, and I found that I had no issues flying through the pages. The multiple perspectives worked well, and I liked that it still included the librarian entries at the beginning of each chapter for a little bit of information about the past librarians and the world.
My only complaint was that sometimes there were words that didn't make much sense as they were a bit of an oxymoron. Sentences such as Remiel's colourless silver gaze.
Fresh off the events of the first novel, the story immediately starts progressing rather quickly, with the catalyst for the story occurring rather early on. In all honesty, I didn't really know what exactly was going on for the vast majority of the book. It is only really explained towards the end as it sets up the next book. Also, while I said earlier that it was easy to fly through the story, not too much actually happens in this.
As a side note, I was initially intrigued about this book because I thought that, Claire now having been relocating to the Arcanist Wing, it might focus a bit more on the artifacts there. However, since this series is called Hell's Library, that wasn't the case to my slight disappointment.
We follow our usual cast of characters in this novel - Claire, Brevity, Rami, and Hero - with some new additions. Claire as the main character is someone who goes through some much-needed development, but does feel a bit flat. Brevity, on the other hand, had some development in the wrong direction in my eyes as she did bother me a bit in this.
The stars of this series though, are Hero and Rami. Hero is just everything I want in a good character as people who fight with wit and sarcasm are top tier for me. That is also why I like the Hero/Rami dynamic, as it is them just bantering back and forth. We got golden interactions like this - "I'm an atheist...You've met literal gods...Yes, and I didn't find myself that impressed."
The addition I didn't like so much, was Probity. Probity is a former muse who is close to Brevity and just shows up out of the blue to stir things up (and leaves just as suddenly as well). From the start she just screamed Grima Wormtongue character type to me so, needless to say, I wasn't here for her.
This book was decent enough for me to enjoy myself overall, even though there wasn't a whole lot happening, and I was confused for a good amount of it as the plot was lost on me. I am curious to see where the next book goes though, so I am definitely going to see this series through.