Books / Features

Book Review – The X-Files: The Official Archives

The X-Files may have been closed for good back in 2018, but for fans still in need of a Mulder & Scully fix, this brand new coffee-table tome from Abrams Books is just the ticket – a visual history of the FBI’s various investigations into monsters, mutants and the paranormal.

Styled like one of Agent Mulder’s infamous FBI files, The X-Files: The Official Archives represents a gorgeous piece of design work, one that painstakingly replicates the look and feel of the show’s X-File dossiers right down to the redacted text, fire damage and hastily scribbled notes. The attention to detail from both the book’s designers and author Paul Terry is superb, the end result being a finished product that is simply a joy to hold in one’s hands.

Leafing through the pages of this mammoth book is a feast for the eye as well. A visually stunning book chock full of in-depth profiles, reports and pictures from the show’s best ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes, each page is peppered with tons of neat little touches and cool tidbits. The files themselves detail each case from the perspective of Mulder or Scully, accompanied by crime scene photos, newspaper headlines, reports and evidence photos, which in turn provide a concise recap of the show’s best episodes.

Every memorable monster from the show’s eleven season run is represented here in one form or another, including fan favourites like the Flukeman, Robert ‘Pusher’ Modell, the Peacock Brothers, the Great Mutato, Leonard Betts, Donnie Pfaster, and the Band-Aid Nose Man. Each and every one is profiled in stunning detail, as are a veritable host of other monsters and villains from the show, which fans will enjoy rediscovering through these in-depth accounts.

Amidst the faux case reports, autopsy notes, newspaper cuttings and crime-scene photos are a number of references and easter eggs lifted directly from classic episodes which fans will instantly recognise and appreciate. The full transcript of Eugene Victor Toom’s polygraph test from Squeeze. The Puppet’s letter to Clyde Bruckman from Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. Even the full menu from the Big Top Diner briefly glimpsed in Humbug is printed here in full – perfect for those who’ve ever wondered what a freakshow frequented diner would serve up (we wholly recommend the Pinhead Platter, by the way). It’s this wonderful variety and meticulousness which makes the book such a treasure trove for fans – countless hours will no doubt be spent poring over every tiny scrap of information.

Adding to the authenticity are additional facts and backstories that series creator Chris Carter and fan-favourite writers Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan have contributed to the book. Only the most hardcore of fans will unearth these new details, but it’s great to see the show’s creative team lending their expertise and offering up some new nuggets of information about the monsters they helped create decades ago.

Those who prefer their tie-in books to contain some behind-the-scenes insights will need to look elsewhere, as The Official Archives is pure in-universe fiction. No cast or crew interviews or production photos are included, which grants the book a special, authentic feel. Reading through case reports ‘written by’ Fox Mulder, Dana Scully, John Doggett and Monica Reyes, the book feels more like an actual prop from the show then a piece of tie-in merchandise, which certainly lends the finished product a uniqueness seldom achieved by other books of it’s type. Once again, the writer and designers should be commended over their wonderfully nerdy attention to detail.

Whether you’re a lifelong X-Phile or someone uncovering the truth for the first time ever, The X-Files: The Official Archives is a must-have companion to one of the best television shows of all-time. Beautifully designed and pieced together, with a distinctive look and feel that grants it an authenticity lacking in similar books, it’s a must-have page-turner that’ll be the envy of every sceptic or syndicate member the world over.

The X-Files: The Official Archives is released in UK bookstores from 15th September. Pre-order now from Abrams!

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