ARCHIVIST WASP by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 14 & up
Email this review


A ravishing, profane, and bittersweet post-apocalyptic bildungsroman transcends genre into myth.

In a desolate future, young girls marked by the goddess Catchkeep fight to the death to become Archivist, needed but feared and shunned for her sacred duty to trap, interrogate, and dispatch ghosts. After three years as Archivist, Wasp is weary of killing, of loneliness, of hunger, of cruelty, of despair, so she barters with a supersoldier’s ghost to find his long-dead partner in exchange for a chance at escape. But looking for answers in the land of the dead only reveals that everything Wasp knew was a lie. Equal parts dark fantasy, science fiction, and fable, Wasp’s story is structured as a classic hero’s journey. Her bleak and brutal world, limned with the sparest of detail, forges her character: stoic, cynical, with burning compassion at the core; in contrast, the rich and mosaic (if capricious and violent) underworld overflows with symbol and metaphor that tease at deeper meanings never made fully explicit. Meanwhile, the nameless ghost’s history, told through disconnected snatches of memory, encompasses heroism, abuse, friendship, and betrayal in a tragedy only redeemed by the heart-rending convergence of their separate narratives. Names (and their absence) form a constant leitmotif, as identity is transformed by the act of claiming it.

Difficult, provocative, and unforgettable—the most dangerous kind of fiction. (Science fiction/fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 12th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-61873-097-8
Page count: 250pp
Publisher: Big Mouth House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2015


FictionDAYS OF AWE by Lauren Fox
by Lauren Fox
NonfictionFATHERLAND by Nina Bunjevac
by Nina Bunjevac


ChildrenASH AND QUILL  by Rachel Caine
by Rachel Caine
ChildrenCROSSING OVER by Anna Kendall
by Anna Kendall
ChildrenLOTUS AND THORN by Sara Wilson Etienne
by Sara Wilson Etienne
ChildrenTHE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
by Suzanne Collins