Gallant by VE Schwab // Book Review

Is it a YA? Is it a middle grade? Or is it for everyone? I’ve already heard so many stories on who this book is marketed to, but one thing I know for a fact is that it’s spooky, it’s good, and it’s very Schwab-ian.

Here’s more about Gallant

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

Find it on Amazon | Find it on Bookshop.org

My thoughts

The story starts off with young Olivia. She’s left at a Preparatory school that her mother leaves her when she was very young. All she has is a journal her mother kept with strange entries, inky illustrations, and a warning for Olivia never to go to Gallant.

When the school receives a letter from a mysterious uncle having her return to Gallant, she’s immediately sent off only to find that she’s not wanted. But Olivia is determined to make this work especially since the two people who work at Gallant knew her mother. And as the days go by for Olivia, she finds out more and more about the house, her family, and what lies beyond the walls.

Seriously, the spook factor in this book is prevalent right from the beginning. The atmospheric writing puts you right into the story. It also helps that Olivia can see ghosts and not friendly ghosts like Casper. These are “ghouls” with missing body parts, skin sloughing off, and bones bare. They also don’t seem like friendly ghosts given that most of them just stare at Olivia and Olivia can’t look at them directly without scaring them off. There’s even these illustrations throughout the story that I could swear were looking into my soul.

From the start, I was scared. The atmosphere, the spooky ghosts, the haunted house, and the mysteries beyond the wall in their garden truly made me paranoid by the things in the corner of my eye. And knowing that it’s targeted towards young adult readers and even middle grade, well, that just makes me look like a giant baby. But if you’re a fan of horror or paranormal stories, then maybe you won’t be as spooked as I was.

Olivia was my favorite character in this whole story. I loved following along with her as she finds out about her mother, her family lineage, and even see her drum up the courage to face something no child should ever face. She has this naivete about her that really brings out the youthfulness of this story. Maybe she’s what makes this story feel MG. But then you bring on these massively mature challenges: facing family she’s never met, entering a home she’s never seen, being unable to communicate with her cousin (she’s non-verbal), and her cousin hiding this big secret from her. All this and then ghosts, demons, a world that wants her dead. You can see how you want to reach into the book and help her out.

The plot itself was also thick with mystery. As you read, it starts to unravel giving you pieces of the story and just enough to make you keep reading. I always love how closely VE Schwab keeps things to the chest that you don’t see the big reveals right away. They always keep you guessing, which is something I’ve always loved about their books.

While I truly loved this book, I will say it wasn’t my favorite Schwab book. I’m still more partial to the Darker Shade of Magic series and Vicious, but I think this book has merits in its own way. You have a main character you want to root for. You have a plot that’s weird and keeps you reading. You have these twists and turns and big reveals that surprise you throughout the read. There’s a lot to go on!

But if I could complain about anything, it was the ending. While the entire book felt lush with story and surprises, I was a bit disappointed with its end. It felt quick and quite simple. I hate using language like that because I know that writing an ending that satisfies the story and its readers isn’t easy, but this ending did feel just too easy for everyone. Bittersweet, but easy.

Overall, it’s another good one from VE Schwab and if you’re a fan of their work, then you’ll enjoy this one in your repertoire.

4 thoughts on “Gallant by VE Schwab // Book Review

  1. I think this book is included in a book box for March and I kind of didn’t know what to expect so thank you for this review! I’m really excited to read this now 🥰

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