Review copy provided by the publisher.
Review of Gallant
If you’ve been here for a while then you’ll know of my love of Schwab and their books. Whether it be going to events and book signings, trying to get my hands on special editions or writing up (very long) reviews, yeah you could say I’m a big fan.
Back in March we saw the release of Schwab’s latest novel, Gallant, and when I had the opportunity to review an early copy, of course there was no chance I could say no! Keep on reading for my spoiler free review of Gallant.
Length: 320 pages
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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?
My review of Gallant
From the very first line of Gallant I immediately felt the atmosphere of the story surround me like a familiar and welcome blanket; I felt as if I were stood on the grounds of Merilance with Olivia and I was hooked. My favourite thing about Schwab’s books has to be their writing. They have an undeniable talent of creating such vivid and visceral worlds which are all too easy to immerse yourself in.
Not quite as action packed as some of Schwab’s other tales, Gallant was more character driven, but I found this worked for the story perfectly. I easily became enthralled, desperate to unravel the secrets of Olivia’s family and Gallant.
“To be a Prior is to live and die on these grounds, driven mad by ghosts.”
I was immediately invested in Olivia. Having been left at an orphanage as a child, Olivia has known no family, with her only link being an old journal of her mother’s. The way that those in the Prior’s estate accepted her easily into the family (well, almost) really made my heart swell. After spending almost her entire life at the orphanage and struggling to communicate with anyone there as a result of her being non-verbal, she felt a huge amount of loneliness and as though she didn’t belong. I mean, if we don’t count the ghosts that tend to linger around her…
Speaking of ghosts, they were one of my favourite elements of Gallant. I’d have loved to spend more time with them but perhaps their fleeting appearances and solemn, silent interactions only aided the chilling atmosphere.
As I say, it was a character driven story, but not just driven by Olivia. Gallant itself, the Prior’s house, was a complex character in its own right. Full of twists and turns, both figuratively and literally, I would love to have read more about its history and spent more time in this enthralling estate.
“She looks down at the stone fountain, the woman with the outstretched hand, and she knows now it is a warning. Stay back, it says. But it is a message meant for strangers. She is a Prior, and Gallant is her house.”
At only 352 pages, this was a relatively short novel and I couldn’t help but devour it. I was desperate to discover what secrets would unfold and where this plot would take us and would have happily consumed a deeper and longer story.
Gallant explores themes of loss, family, belonging and grief. A gothic novel that could also be deemed a light horror, the novel had a slow moving but chilling plot, packed with vivid descriptors and familial love.