Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m sharing my review of Gallant, the latest work by V.E. Schwab. This proof and beautiful companying prints and pins were sent to me by Titan Books, and a huge thank you needs to go out to them for letting me into this world.
Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…
Sometimes I struggle to write reviews for various reasons, and in this instance, it’s because the book just left me so wonderfully complete, I don’t know where to begin.
I love Schwab’s work, and so when I was sent this ARC, I was beyond delighted, as it was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I’ve kept the prints and badges safe to go on display above my desk whenever we are in proper housing, and even just looking at them makes me smile. They’re special. That’s the vibe I got from the parcel, the gifts, the book. Special.
Olivia makes for an interesting protagonist. Some of her behaviours seem odd, cruel even, right from the very beginning, yet I wouldn’t consider her to be morally grey. I’d consider her to be someone who hasn’t had the guidence she needed to bloom in the world, and, tired of trying to fit in in a world that keeps rejecting her, she resorts to survival methods. We’ve all done it in our own ways, and her lack of perfection makes her hugely relatable. At sixteen, she’s only a few years older than my son, and as a mother, I wanted to just wrap her in a hug and tell her everything would be okay. Such is the power of Schwab’s writing, you wish to reach through the pages, to engage with the characters. Or maybe hover like one of the ghouls, watchful and waiting, ready to serve Gallant should they be needed.
The cast of the book is small, only made up of four main characters, and because of Olivia’s inability to talk, the dialogue is limited. In some books, this could be its breaking point, but here it makes the book bloom even more. Being with Olivia, by her side as a reader and companion, you watch her journey physically and emotionally beyond the lines of communication. Her dynanmics with those at Gallant are wonderful and interesting, especially with her cousin, who is standoffish and cold immediately. As the pages pass by, the more their interactions entwine, and the more you wish to see of him.
In between the thoughts and activities of Olivia, we are allowed bursts from her mother’s journal, the only thing of hers she has, accompanied with strange illustrations that Olivia does not understand. An artist herself, Olivia endevours to make sense of her mother’s winding words, made all the more curious once she arrives at Gallant.
It’s had to put into words everything about this book that captivated me, other than to say I have waited since it was annouced that Scwab was releasing a new book for it, and I was beyond blown away by what I read. All the excitment was deserved, all the waiting worth it.
So, pick up the book, if you dare. Gallant is waiting for you.
Thanks for stopping by today for this review. It’s a book I feel so passionately about, and believe will go down as a greatly loved contemporary Gothic novel. I can’t wait already for whatever Schwab produces next.