LATCHKEY by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Kirkus Star


From the "Archivist Wasp" series, volume 2
Age Range: 12 & up
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Near-future science-fiction crimes bleed into dystopian horror centuries later in a wildly imaginative genre-hybrid sequel to Archivist Wasp (2015).

For three years, Isabel (ex-Archivist and no longer going by “Wasp”) and the former shrine girls have gradually created a home; now savage invaders force them to fight to defend it. While hiding refugees in tunnels buried since the Before, Isabel again encounters the ghosts of a nameless, long-dead supersoldier and his partner. Instead of passing peacefully on to the afterlife, the ghosts are seeking their lost memories of the Latchkey Project that engineered them, secrets that could guarantee Isabel’s future…or destroy it. Less mythic in tone and more conventional in structure than the first, this title nonetheless delivers gripping action while deepening mysteries in restrained prose studded with flashes of vulgar brutality and startling poetry. Isabel’s post-apocalyptic world, with all its graphic violence and cruelty, still exhibits solidarity, tenderness, and joy. Allusions to names of varying ethnicities and a range of skin tones indicate an unobtrusive diversity. The emotional core of the story resides in the magnificently understated relationship between damaged, heartsick Isabel and the arrogant yet oddly fragile ghost, a kinship forged from their shared raw courage, ferocious loyalty, and bone-deep integrity, punctuated by an uncertain, heart-piercing vulnerability. Although this narrative provides satisfying closure, readers will hope for more about these unlikely allies.

Excruciating, cathartic, and triumphant. (Science fiction/horror. 12-adult)

Pub Date: July 10th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9889124-8-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Mythic Delirium
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2018


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