• This series is a new ALL-TIME favorite for me!
The Archive of the Forgotten Book Cover The Archive of the Forgotten
A Hell’s Library Novel
A.J. Hackwith
Fantasy Fiction
October 6, 2020

In the second installment of this richly imagined fantasy adventure series, a new threat from within the Library could destroy those who depend upon it the most.

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.

What are books in Hell made of if they were never written?

The Hell’s Library series is about books, characters that love and treasure books, and the mysterious libraries in after-life realms for the books unwritten and words unspoken. Part of why I love this trilogy SO much is because of the devotion to books and their characters. It’s everything that a bookworm could want, and then much more.

In this second installment of the Hell’s Library Trilogy, we spend a significant amount of time with Hero and Rami, two males that were secondary characters in book one. Claire and Brevity were still very important in this book but I enjoyed diving deeper into the minds of Hero, the character separated from his book, and Ramiel the Fallen Angel. Loyal almost to a fault, the two of them go on a dangerous journey for answers that will help The Unwritten Library as well as The Arcane Wing. During their time together they come to see the inner layers of each other’s personalities. Hero in particular learns to come to terms with his true self when he’s constantly challenged by Rami to drop his arrogant and careless swagger. Could a relationship be blooming for them in book three?

Finally–a story with natural diversity.

When I say “natural” diversity, I mean that A.J. Hackwith has characters of different colors (even blue), genders, and non-binary, without constantly reminding you throughout the story. Too often an author will remind me more than a few times of how dark a person’s skin color is, and very often doesn’t reference the shades of white at all. A.J. Hackwith describes every character quickly, to paint you a vague picture and then doesn’t remind you again. The color of a character’s skin doesn’t detract from the story as it so often does for me in books.

Sexuality is very seamlessly expressed as well. Characters who come to love another character of the same gender develop their relationship just as naturally as heterosexual stories. Why shouldn’t it be, right? I only point it out because of how refreshing it is to read the different ways people can fall in love. Our experiences may be different, but that doesn’t mean that either way is right or wrong.

Are any of us ready to face judgement in the afterlife?

There is a scene in which people are shifting from their lives to a form of their afterlife. No one knows where they’ll end up, only that they must cross a bridge. If you’re not worthy, you’ll find yourself stuck on the bridge as it narrows to a tightrope, waiting for you to teeter of the edge into the unknown. falling-into-abyssIt shook me a little because of the panic among everyone on the bridge. All kinds of souls running, trying not to be the one the bridge is narrowing towards. All of them looking around to see who it is the bridge wants. Are any one of us certain we’d deserve to cross the bridge? For that matter, where would we end up if thrown off the edge?

This book series is certainly one of my all time favorites, ever. While I’ve received both books one and two for honest reviews, I quickly purchased them in print for my shelves and to share with my teenager. It’s amusing for the library to be placed in Hell, a place we’re not meant to visit by choice. As it stands, I would love to visit the Unwritten Wing in Hell. The Arcane wing too! From there I’d love to visit the wing of words unsaid, and all of the other after-life realms to see what other magical places exist for books and words.

This series was made for readers who truly/madly/deeply love books. Characters will come and go from their books like real people. Walking among angels, demons, muses, and mortals in the afterlife. I mean… haven’t all of us fallen in love with a book character? They might be waiting for you in Hell’s Library.

 The Archive of the Forgotten is out now!