VE Schwab’s new novel Gallant is a gothic tale that mixes a range of genres, from middle grade to YA, and mystery to horror, that will intrigue and win over the hearts of whoever reads it.
Olivia Prior is a 17-year-old orphan who is very different from all the other girls at Merilance School for Independent Girls. Firstly, she is a mute. Secondly, she can see ghouls. The other girls think her odd and she is painfully lonely.
Then one day, Olivia receives a letter at school from an uncle she has never met, inviting her to his estate, Gallant. When she arrives, Gallant is a giant mansion filled with spectacular things. There is a family there, but they are not what she expects, and she soon realises that things are not what they seem at Gallant. It has many secrets of its own, some of which might just answer the questions she has about her family, and the darkness that enveloped them.
This is a shadowy story filled with ethereal pictures and bright prose. It is filled with sentences that make you stop and read them again for their beauty.
Olivia is an excellent character, and was instantly likeable. The fact she is a mute really added to the story and was handled extremely well. Her frustration and anger is palpable, and it gives the reader an intimate look into her world as you feel you are the only one privy to her thoughts. She is also constantly underestimated by everyone around her, and I could feel her dark anger and I kind of revelled in it.
VE Schwab’s books often revolve around worlds within worlds and portals (such as her Shades of Magic books), and Gallant is no different. It was incredibly atmospheric with some fantastic cinematic scenes I could picture so clearly in my head it was almost like being at the theatre. I imagine this would make a great movie.
I just really enjoyed this book. Some might find it on the slower side, but I didn’t feel any space or words were wasted. I loved this original gothic story about an orphan girl finding what family and duty means as she discovers her place in the world (and another slightly darker world, but I don’t want to give too much away). And although it was scary, it never really crossed the line of being too frightening to read for its intended audience.
I think the illustrations between the chapters really added to the story and I spent a lot of time looking at them, trying to decipher their meaning. They made it feel so real, and I like how the main character tries to figure out their meaning too. I also liked the ghosts/ghouls, and how they weren’t over the top. Gallant is a gorgeous book that is incredibly well written by an experienced author. I don’t know what goes on in VE Schwabs’ mind, but I’d like to know. This one would suit fans of VE Schwab’s other stories, and fans of Holly Black and Garth Nix.
Author: VE Schwab
Publisher: Titan Publishing, $32.99
Publication Date: 1 March 2022
For ages: 13 – 17 year olds
Type: Middle Grade, Young Adult