Title: Archivist Wasp
Author: Nicole Kornher-Stace
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fiction/Horror
Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
This book was given to me by the publisher, Small Beer Press, through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review--thank you so much!
Did you enjoy The Sin Eater's Daughter? Do you like novels that aren't exactly one clean cut genre? Badass heroines with smart mouths? Gore? Ghosts? Weird, twisty plots?
If you said yes to any or all of these questions, I'm not kidding--go to your nearest bookstore and grab this gem. What an odd, weird little book. But it is strangely beautiful, even though I couldn't put my finger on exactly what genre it belongs to. This book is one that can't be put in one category. And I think that's one of the reasons I loved it so much.
Wasp is an Archivist--a young woman in the service to the Catchkeep, the reigning goddess of her strange world. Bound by duty to her village, its people, and the priest of Catchkeep, Wasp has grown tired of her burden: catching ghosts, killing upstarts, being feared by all who know her. Her hands dripping in blood, Wasp resents her purpose. When she catches a ghost who happens to be able to talk, she finds herself in a predicament even she isn't sure she can get out of unscathed. Leaving her village to brave the Underworld, she discovers that in order to find the freedom she craves, she must fight with every fiber of her being, and even that may not be enough.
Where do I start with this? I loved this book. It wasn't very clear, setting and world-building wise, but I didn't really care about that. The focus of this novel is Wasp. The girl who tires of killing, of fear, of spirits of the dead whispering to her. Frustrated and trapped, she is offered an out: a mysterious ghost asks her to help him find his best friend, Foster. Seeing this opportunity as a means to an end, she agrees, fully intending to cut and run when she's able.
I loved Wasp's character development: first, she is angry, frustrated, and tired. Forced to do her duty, to cling to her only purpose, even though she senses right off that something's wrong. And it wasn't even just her character development; I loved that she was a woman with power in her own right, formidable and terrifying. Wasp is a complex and relatable character, and I really enjoyed her. And then there's the mysterious ghost. (Throughout the whole book, it doesn't have a name. It's just 'the ghost'. But strangely, I was okay with that..) Begging Wasp for help to find his only friend, he too is hiding secrets, just like her.
But what made this book for me, really, was the journey, from Wasp's town to the Underworld, and through it. A terrifying, harrowing, and eye-opening quest, I loved this book. Almost everything about it. Couldn't give it five stars completely though, as the world-building was very vague and confusing, but I loved it anyway! The bottom line: For those of you that enjoy a good enigma, go pick up Archivist Wasp! Next on deck: The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough!