- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Mythic Delirium Books (10 July 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0988912481
- ISBN-13: 978-0988912489
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 399 g
- Customer Reviews: 10 customer ratings
Latchkey: Book Two of the Archivist Wasp Saga Paperback – 10 July 2018
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“Latchkey is explosively imaginative. This narrative shimmers with rich characters and a nuanced mythology. Weaving throughout it like a trail of ink is a heartbreaking exploration of trauma and how we engage with the scars left behind by history. Readers will leave this world feeling as if they've drawn new breath.”
—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times–bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of Time
“Latchkey peels away the layers of its past while pushing its characters into the future, offering the hope that out of the wreckage of old cruelty might come new dreams. Like a ghost caught in a loop, you’ll find yourself drawn in, not to escape until it’s done.”
—Marie Brennan, Hugo Award-nominated author of A Natural History of Dragons
“Like Catchkeep’s harvester knife, Latchkey will cut you up. ... Latchkey leaves other dystopias in the dust wallowing in More-of-the-Same. Kornher-Stace doesn’t do More-of-the-Same; she’s a strictly leave-her-readers-in-palpitations type of writer. Prepare to palpitate, and to read the entire novel in one go.”
—Ysabeau S. Wilce, Andre Norton Award-winning author of The Flora Trilogy and Prophecies, Libels and Dreams
“Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Latchkey is a completely unique and enthralling story. A blend of fantasy, paranormal and more that defies categorization, I couldn’t put it down.”
—Jennifer Brody, award-winning author of The 13th Continuum
“Latchkey vividly asks so many of the right questions about what memories linger after an apocalypse, for worse and for better. Surreal, beautifully rendered cross-genre action-adventure.”
—Fran Wilde, Andre Norton-winning, Nebula and Hugo-nominated author of Updraft and The Bone Universe Series
“Kornher-Stace has a gift for creating atmosphere, from the familial closeness of Isabel’s small community of former upstarts in the Catchkeep-temple, to the ominous claustrophobia of the tunnels beneath Sweetwater, and into the hectic chaos and turmoil of battle. And underwriting every moment is a core of kindness, of compassion—of choosing a path away from cruelty, even when it’s hard: a core that makes this book, for all its darkness, somehow fundamentally uplifting.”
—Liz Bourke, Locus
“What a great read! This surreal dreamscape of a book delves deeper into the unique world of the Andre Norton Award finalist Archivist Wasp.”
—Beth Cato, author of Breath of Earth
“Spine-tingling ghost encounters and tension sharp as razorwire make this a sequel well worth waiting for.”
—Tiffany Trent, award-winning author of The Unnaturalists
“The sequel to Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp is a breathless rollercoaster ride through hope, despair, narrow escapes, and a history that refuses to die, built on a bedrock theme of community and friendship. All the characters are individual, convincing, and alive—including the dead ones.”
—Delia Sherman, author of The Evil Wizard Smallbone
“Wildly inventive, saturated with grit and guts and a wistful, calloused ephemerality, this is a book that lands with all the sting and palm-tingling impact of two partners joining hands before facing down impossible odds.”
—Brooke Bolander, Hugo-nominated author of The Only Harmless Great Thing
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The events of Latchkey take place about 3 years after the end of Archivist Wasp, which had finished with Wasp using the knowledge she's obtained to topple the post-apocalyptic regime in which she was living. She'd also had the offer to go with the ghosts she befriended in that book but had turned it down, then used her knowledge of the way they worked to keep herself isolated even in the midst of busy rebuilding. Wasp is now, to the people of the settlement where she lives, Isabel - living a fairly stable life until their peace is threatened by raiders.
Forced to access the tunnels under their settlement, Isabel discovers that there are more ghosts left over from the Latchkey project than just Foster and the ghost she'd initially befriended. In fact, in the intervening time, they'd been busy taking up Isabel's mantle and keeping those ghosts contained. So, alongside keeping the most vulnerable members of the settlement safe, Isabel joins forces with them again to try and find out just what is missing from both their memories.
To be perfectly honest, until Foster and the ghost turned up again, this book wasn't working quite so well for me as Archivist Wasp did. I think that book had such an unusual feel to it, with the cruelties of the system within which Wasp was trying to survive and the rules she was working hard to subvert, that the 'standard' post-apocalyptic feel of the first part of this one seemed a bit bland. On her own, or even with her fellow former-upstarts, Wasp just wasn't as interesting a character for me as she was when engaged with ghost-hunting. Still recommended though, with the caveat that you really need to read Archivist Wasp first!
With Archavist wasp, the world, the characters and the plot were all very fascinating, but it also suffered from a little tell but don’t show and contradictions in what the story told you. Not to say it isn’t a really good book, but after finishing it some of the flaws were surprisingly sticky, to the point where they gave me some pause about book two. So the first question lingering in my head was would the previous story detract at all from the second? It really doesn’t. Because while the first book might not have been perfectly, it was still very good, and this book is basically better in every way.
The second book picks up a little after the first and begins with going over the complexities of running a settlement in this bleak world. Though the books themselves are not as bleak seeming as other similar stories, like the road, they are still quite bleak. Not only is humanity well and truly screwed in these worlds, but this book series makes it kind of worse by including the afterlife. Even in death things seem awfully bleak and this is demonstrated in part by how some of the characters talk about it. Very few books have a story which is so compelling and also manages to make a world which isn’t appealing imagining yourself in, but this is one of them.
As for what the book is about, the armature that the author seems to be writing around seems to be the idea that two are worth risking to save one. This concept comes up again and again and again and is contrasted by the Latchkey project. This is the part where the story actually tries to introduce some hope in with would otherwise be nothing but dreary hopelessness. You cannot escape that the numbers quoted for these settlements are so small that they probably won’t make it no matter what they do and that is without mentioning ghosts. That Kornher-Stace manages some glimmer of hope in such a dark stroke is impressive.
Ultimately this is a great book and better than the last. The only thing that bothers me about it is that the ending does not really end things. The armature seems to be complete, but this book has a cliffhanger ending. Not really a spoiler, but do not expect a conclusion, there will certainly be a book three and I for one cannot wait.
It can be rare for a sequel to be as good as the first book, let alone surpass it. And I didn't think Archivist Wasp could be surpassed. But Latchkey managed it.
All in all, these books reminded me a lot of A Canticle for Leibowitz, except with about 1000 times more hope.
Latchkey is fantastic, even more out there, with solid logic, and story while keeping the weird, strange, engrossing feel and images. This is not a book to approach with preconceptions but if you are interested in new ideas and being taken places you couldn't even conceive of with a great main character then it is for you.
One point: Read Archivist Wasp first!!!