Archival Quality – Ivy Noelle Weir

Illustrations – Steenz

This should have been the perfect graphic novel for me. I hate writing negative reviews and I want you to know there are plenty of really positive reviews too. I would encourage you, if you’re considering reading this graphic novel, to check out some of the 4 and 5 star reviews as well. Just because it wasn’t for me doesn’t mean it won’t be for you. 😊

Our main character, Celeste Walden (Cel), has lost her dream job in a library as a result of a breakdown, lives at home and has been in a five year relationship with Kyle. Kyle sometimes comes across as fairly passive aggressive but most of the time he appears genuinely concerned about his girlfriend’s mental health. Kyle like The X Files so I figure he must be a good guy.

Despite Kyle’s concerns Cel winds up with a job at the Logan Museum as an archivist. The archivist job comes with a fully furnished apartment, which is pretty sweet deal for someone who scans antique medical documents and photos for a living.

Almost immediately Cel starts losing time, dreaming of a girl she’s never met but feels compelled to help and items tend to move around unassisted. Her boyfriend is understandably worried about her mental health and she’s pretty good at being the cranky girl pushing people away.

Cel’s boss is Holly Park, the Head Librarian, who’s worked at the museum for three year, has a girlfriend called Gina, and rocks purple hair with a couple of sections of blue. Prior to this job Holly was a medical student.

Abayomi Abiola (Aba) is the 29 year old chief curator who manages the collections and is kind of a mystery for much of the book. He’s standoffish and cold, and you get the impression he knows more about the museum than he lets on.

I spent the majority of the graphic novel wondering how the museum stays open when there are apparently very few customers. I was so close to giving up for more than half of the story because it seemed to drag out, I had no connection with (and didn’t particularly like) any of the characters and the plot didn’t seem that cohesive.

There were mysteries of who the girl was that Cel was dreaming about and if there was a connection between Cel and her, who the Board members were, what they did and why Cel wasn’t allowed on the third floor, what happened to the previous curator that vanished, and what the deal was with Aba. Some questions were answered but frustratingly others weren’t.

I did appreciate the diversity in the characters as well as the exploration of how people with mental health conditions have been treated and mistreated throughout psychiatric history.

Ultimately though, I was expecting more from this paranormal mystery and unfortunately I was fairly bored for most of the story. While I know people experience mental health conditions differently I found Cel’s character irritating, particularly the amount of time she spent snapping at the other characters. Frankly I was surprised she made it past the interview to get the job in the first place and shocked she managed to keep the job.

Favourite line (by Holly)

Content warnings include mental health.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Oni Press for the opportunity to read this graphic novel.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Everything you need to know is in the archives.

The Logan Museum is a mysterious old building practically covered in skulls, and also the new workplace of Celeste “Cel” Walden, a librarian who was let go from her previous job after a mental breakdown. But Cel is desperate to feel useful, and Abayomi Abiola, the Logan Museum’s chief curator, is desperate to hire a new archivist. 

Cel soon realizes the job is unlike any other she’s had. There’s an apartment onsite she’s required to live in, she only works in the middle of the night, and she definitely gets the impression that there’s more to the museum than Abayomi and her new boss, Holly Park are letting on. 

And then strange things start happening. Odd noises. Objects moving. Vivid, terrifying dreams of a young woman Cel’s never met, but feels strangely drawn to. A woman who for some reason needs Cel’s help.

As Cel attempts to learn more about her, she begins losing time, misplacing things, passing out – there’s no denying the job is becoming dangerous. But Cel can’t let go of the woman in her dreams. Who is she? Why is she so fixated on Cel? And does Cel have the power to save herself?

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