Published by Titan on March 1, 2022
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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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?
Gallant is a middle grade Gothic tale, about Olivia Prior, a 16 year old girl with mutism who discovers her haunting past from snippets of her mother’s journal. It is a beautifully written book, almost poetic, but many of the concepts felt familiar.
As Olivia is mute, the book heavily focuses on the descriptions of her surroundings. You can practically see, hear and taste the old, quirky house of Gallant. The lived-in condition of the Merrilance orphanage. The juicy roses from the gardens. It’s an incredibly visual experience, but I do wish we had more character exposition.
Because of the way it is written, I felt like the characters were incredibly lacking. Olivia’s sole defining trait, aside from her condition, is that she’s brave and curious and sees shadows, or ghouls. I wish there was more there, but unfortunately it felt like her personality – like all the characters – were lacking. The book’s side characters, Matthew, Hannah and Edgar had no defining personality and limited interactions with Olivia. This meant I didn’t feel much when we reached the end of the book.
Gallant welcomes you into the mystery of the house, as each chapter hints at the secrets within. I liked the mother’s journal, with the beautiful drawings and words within. If you’ve read Schwab’s other books, particularly City of Ghosts and A Darker Shade of Magic, it felt like many of the concepts recycled certain aspects from there.
There is an incredibly visual experience that Gallant offers, both in the lyrical prose and the visuals within the book, and I can see this becoming a movie. Sadly, I found it wasn’t terribly unique, and the characters really lacking. While I enjoyed it for the most part, I think Gallant will most probably join the ‘forgettable’ pile.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Thanks to New South Books Au for sending me a review copy of the book!
Gallant is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$32.99 or buy now from The Book Depository.
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Although I gave it 4 stars, I resonated with what you said here: “If you’ve read Schwab’s other books, particularly City of Ghosts and A Darker Shade of Magic, it felt like many of the concepts recycled certain aspects from there.” I felt exactly the same way! My favorite parts were the setting and the author’s prose but I couldn’t help but feel like the plot and characters were lacking.