Cover Image: Gallant

Gallant

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Olivia lives at Merilance, a girls’ school that is more of a bleak asylum/orphanage than an institution of learning. She never speaks, and she sees ghouls around every corner that no one else seems to see. Her only link to her past is a journal written by her mother, the ramblings of a madwoman who passed away years before. But then Olivia receives an invitation from a long lost relative, inviting her to come and live at a mysterious estate known as Gallant – a place that her mother’s journal has warned her to stay away from. 

This is a spooky, gorgeously written YA novel with vibes like The Secret Garden, only way creepier. Something about it failed to hold my attention, though - my mind kept wandering while reading.

The book includes several gorgeous illustrations, which are important to the story, but which are unfortunately not entirely visible when viewed in Adobe Digital Editions, which was how I read the book. This is not the first time this has happened - NetGalley really needs to find a better way of formatting books that are a mix of text and images. 

Representation: disabled (mute) character
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An atmospheric, gothic fantasy from a fantastic author that is perfect for middle grade and young adult readers.
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This book was amazing. I love V.E. Schwab. She is an auto buy author for me. This book was nothing like I have ever read. It was creepy and heartbreaking all at one time. The writing was atmospheric and beautiful. Overall, it was down right great. 

I could connect to the characters and the storyline was brilliant. It's a one of a kind book and I highly highly recommend it.
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I tried , I really tried to finish this one but I just got bored.  
This is the first book I have read by this author but I kept hearing amazing things about their books.    I so wanted to like this book
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Thank you to HCC Frenzy and Harper Collins for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This book is definitely a situation of “it’s not you it’s me”. Olivia, non-verbal girl has grown up in a school for girls and all she has of her mothers past is a journal. When you read the journal parts of it doesn’t make sense. Suddenly a letter arrives inviting Alivia to come home to Gallant. When she arrives “back home” no one was expecting her. So who sent the letter?

V. E. Schwab has a very unique writing style which I love and that is no different in this book. However this is a book that just did not deliver to my taste. This author writes for a variety of different readers and this book was not for me.

I think the author did a wonderful job in expressing the character even though she is nonverbal either through her actions or through other characters dialogue around her. I thought it was very interesting how I felt like the story didn’t drag too much when they were long periods where the character Olivia was not interacting with anyone.

However, for the most part I was bored and had no interest in the story. Simply, the story just wasn’t for me. But I think the story would be for many others.
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Olivia sees dead people. Well, she refers to them as ghouls, but that muddles the quote. We embark on this literary journey in V.E. Schwab’s newest edition to her incredible library of works with a peek into the life of an orphaned mute who finds herself in the company of the dead.

Before getting into it, I feel it’s necessary to preface this review with a couple of things. One, this is not my first V.E. Schwab rodeo. Two, in general I rate her books highly because I enjoy her writing style and the worlds she builds. To be frank, this book tracks. If anything, I consider Schwab’s newest entry into her library her best one yet. Why? Honestly, let me count the ways. 

As I mentioned, Schwab knows how to build a world. She does an exceptional job crafting environments and moods that make for easy immersion, and this book is no exception. I found myself fully immersed in Gallant early on. She deftly and seamlessly eases you into the gray-toned, ominous atmosphere. The language and descriptive style she employs never feels forced; I don’t get the sense that she’s teaching me about the world, rather, she’s integrating me into it. 

Olivia, on the other hand, is uncomfortably situated in her world. She’s an orphan with little clue into her past outside of a cryptic diary of thoughts and illustrations from her mother. Other than the odd company she involuntarily keeps, she’s a black sheep that ruffles feathers with her peers. Though we can primarily attribute her struggles connecting with others to her inability to talk, there’s a general sense that something is off about her. In the intimate moments we should be experiencing via dialog with other characters, we’re instead feeling connected directly with Olivia in her frustrations and limitations. 

That being said, where there is dialog, it feels natural, honest. Despite our protagonist being mute, each interaction is meaningful; there’s not a whole lot of fluff. In fact, I believe we’re afforded additional emotion and character building because of her circumstance. There are times where another character’s flaws are highlighted by how they choose (and don’t choose) to interact with Olivia. I got frustrated alongside her when it felt like we were both on the tip of discovery, but held back because another character chose to physically turn away from her, rendering any sort of communication non-existent. Her disability is often used at both her disadvantage as well as her advantage, and it adds to her life experience without having to explicitly say so. You can feel in your bones that this is a common struggle she faces and it makes each of those moments more heartfelt and frustrating as the reader.

A trope that I’ve found hard to get used to in some of Schawb’s past works is time jumping and perspective shifts. In Gallant I believe she’s honed that skill. Narrator switches are fairly common, not only in Schawb’s body of work, but in the fantasy genre at large. In Olivia’s tale, however, she is the primary focus. Occasionally we’ll have minor, paragraph-long interludes in between chapters, but the perspective doesn’t stray far from the storytelling goal. Schwab also includes some moments where we’re thrown into Olivia’s past, but these instances sneak in as anecdotal and relevant tidbits we pick up on the way. We’re not left guessing where we are in her timeline. 

I’m particularly grateful for this evolution in Schwab’s writing style because it made the pacing steadier. Even the tense parts moved at a consistent speed. I always feel like we’re moving toward this goal of finding (and more importantly choosing) home and all that it entails. It’s a delightful notion that’s carried on throughout the book without feeling like we’re lamenting on what she lacks. By the time we reach a conclusion to her journey, I’m both satiated and wanting more. This is likely one of the only epilogues I have actively wanted to read. When I read the last page of the last chapter, I immediately flipped with hunger to see if we would get a hint of a continuation. For the sake of those of you like me that don’t want to know that kind of thing before reading, just trust that the book ends well. Not to say that it ended in a good or bad way narratively, but I confidently believe you’ll be happy with either potential outcome. 

If it’s not clear, I really enjoyed this book. It felt like a Lemony Snicket for adults mixed with the right amount of intrigue and momentum. The story draws you in and makes you keep reading chapter to chapter without feeling like you’re butting up to an egregious cliffhanger anytime something interesting happens. 

For fellow Schawb fans (or at least readers), I think it’s important to note that she does tend to rely on tropes and general concepts that she writes around in her other books. But, honestly, I’m not sure I even care. I’m always interested to see the different perspectives she gives to a similar subject/idea and this is definitely a fine example of her doing that. 

Whether it’s your first dive into a V.E. Schwab book or another entry into your TBR featuring Schwab, I would say give it a read. Every time she picks up the pen, she creates an enjoyable read. I ate this up in a matter of days, so if nothing else it’ll give you another notch in your 2022 reading goals.
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This was my first V.E. Schwab book and I will say off the bat, it’s definitely a middle school/YA book. I enjoyed it for sure but I’ve realized that I can’t read books geared towards a younger crowd. However, that’s a me issue.

Olivia Prior has been raised at the less than stellar Merilance School for girls. She only has memories of her mother in the place of her mother’s journal. Her father…she’s not sure who he might be. 

One day she receives a letter asking her to “come home”. Home being Gallant. The house where her mother grew up in. Olivia goes but doesn’t receive the warmest of welcomes. She sees ghouls everywhere and her cousin, Matthew, isn’t the friendliest. 

While at Gallant she discovers that the home is full of secrets. Both light and dark. As well as she might just be able to finally know where her father is from. Olivia is also mute so it was interesting to read how she would communicate with others. 

Gallant was a bit slow for me but if you enjoy twists and turns then this one is for you!
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“When people see tears, they stop listening to your hands or your words or anything else you have to say. And it doesn't matter if the tears are angry or sad, frightened or frustrated. All they see is a girl crying.”

Gallant by V.E. Schwab follows Olivia, a girl who cannot speak, from her orphanage to a house that’s filled with secrets and ghouls. An atmospheric mashup of The Sixth Sense and The Secret Garden. I loved it.

This is a perfect entry level book for middle grade readers into older spooky/gothic reads.

Thanks to @netgalley for the ARC.
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I definitely didn’t hate this book… but I also definitely didn’t love it. I don’t think that I should have started with this as my first V.E. Schwab book… because it was kind of a let down. That’s not to say that this was a horrible book. More like… it felt unbelievable to me. AND I KNOW THIS IS A FANTASY/SUPERNATURAL BOOK, but it felt like we spent way too much time focusing on Olivia and her backstory in an orphanage rather than focusing on any real plot-building material. Why do ghouls exist? What caused there to be an alternate reality/upside down of this area (they sort of explain this point but I felt like it was a throw away because I don’t even remember it at this point)? I also wanted more Prior backstory of the entire family, not just Olivia. It felt way too short for me. Either should have been a longer stand alone or a duology. Not my favorite, and probably won’t recommend.
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In this ghoulish tale the young orphan Olivia longs to know what really happened to her parents. Being mute, Olivia struggles with finding her place and longs to have a home. One day a letter from an unknown uncle arrives inviting her to Gallant. There she meets a cousin Matthew who wants her to leave and servants Hannah and Edgar who embrace her but worry for her well being. No one will tell Olivia why she shouldn’t be at Gallant and while she is drawn to the wall by the garden she starts to realize that there is something very strange about Gallant. In the end Olivia discovers the secret to her past and the secrets of the shadows. Readers will want to linger in the shadows as they put together the pieces of this evil enchanted tale.
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Thanks to NetGalley & HarperCollins Children's Books for the copy in exchange for an honest review.

A very lyrical and gothic story about ghouls and a house stuck inbetween worlds.

I couldn't really get into this one, I had trouble understanding anything that was going on... The images painted with the words were beautiful, but I just don't tend to get metaphorical writing/plots. It also doesn't help that the characters were super one dimensional...if anything, I wanted a book about Olivia's parents instead because they sounded way more interesting than Olivia herself, ha.
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This is my first experience with this author, and I am highly impressed.  I have heard high praises for her work, and now I know why. The writing is beautiful and flows smoothly as the story unfolds. I fell in love with the characters, and particularly Olivia. Olivia is so brave and curious about her surroundings. She also has a desire to belong and find home. This should resonate with us all. It's a story of good verses evil and the sacrifices it takes to protect those we love. I would love to see this adapted into a film. Bravo!
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Olivia Prior doesn’t remember life before living at Merilance orphanage since she was dropped off at such a young age. During her childhood, it became clear that she was different from other children since she saw ghouls, shadowy images of those who are now dead. The only possession she has is her mother’s journal with an ominous final line: “You will be safe as long as you stay away from Gallant. But when a letter from her unknown uncle arrives, Olivia is sent from Merilance and finds herself at Gallant, a house brimming with secrets. As she engages with her cousin and the house’s staff members, Olivia seeks to unravel the mysteries of Gallant before they catch up with her.

I enjoyed Gallant a great deal. Much of this had to do with the gothic nature of the setting and the atmosphere that V.E. Schwab creates. The slow unraveling of the mystery and the addition of new aspects to the house and property offer a natural unspooling that kept me wanting more. I was also pleased by the representation of a deaf protagonist. This added an extra element to the story given that Olivia could communicate through sign language but only when others look at her. Schwab masters the ability to consider what is in and out of eyesight in the novel by including Olivia and her talent for seeing what others cannot.

Overall, if you enjoy novels that take on the ability to fall through doors into another world, you’ll enjoy Gallant. In particular, fans of dark fairytales and Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series will enjoy the novel and find similarities in terms of atmosphere.
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This was fine. I loved the writing and the atmosphere, but the overall story fell a bit flat for me. This is definitely a me thing, as this book felt more like middle-grade or younger YA and that's just not really my thing. Olivia as a main character is great and there are many things to love about this story. The story is accompanied by gorgeous illustrations and the lovely writing really works for the gothic atmosphere. This is an objectively good, well-written book and I think many people will absolutely adore it. I'm glad that I read it, but I don't think it will stick with me like some of Schwab's other books.

3.5 stars
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VE Schwab’s lyrical prose shines through in her newest release, Gallant. While a seemingly short read, coming in at a little under 300 pages, it does not lack complexity or depth. This book weaves a gothic tale reminiscent of the classics you find being taught in classrooms across America. 

Olivia has never had a family. Raised by matrons at Merilance School for girls, she’s always been an outcast. She does not fit in and she does not have a voice to make a sound, making her an easy target for the other girls. What she does have is her mother’s journal, full of secrets more than comforting words. She also has the ghouls. Surrounded by decaying specters most of her life, Olivia is long past feeling afraid. 

Her life changes when a letter arrives from an uncle welcoming her home - home to Gallant. But according to her mother’s journal, Gallant is the one place Olivia must never go if she wishes to remain safe. But Olivia sees no choice and she’s immensely curious about the family she’s never had. 

When she arrives she’s greeted by a long-defunct mansion and her unwelcoming cousin, Matthew, who’s determined to see her back on her way to somewhere else, anywhere else. Olivia resists and begins exploring Gallant and its grounds trying to uncover the shadowy secrets that haunt its halls and her family. But she finds more than she bargained for when she steps into another world, one hungry to get out and devour more than just her. 

Gallant is engaging from start to finish with quick pacing that does not get bogged down despite its more flowery language. VE Schwab is masterful at not overdoing details while still giving readers a full picture of the atmosphere and emotions behind her story. Gallant trends more towards her style in The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue but with a darker twist. It is also more of a cerebral story that goes deeper than just surface level, much like Addie LaRue. It leaves things up for interpretation, for the reader to fill in the gaps in their mind - but in a purposeful way that leaves a reader thinking about it long after the cover is shut.

One thing to note: while the narrator of Gallant is fabulous, the physical book is the superior option due to the illustrations and details throughout that lend themselves to the story in a way that does not fully translate to audio. 

Overall, this is a stellar book for any Schwab fan or anyone looking for a quick gothic read. It's appropriate for a younger reader who is looking for a spooky book, and a great jumping-off point for maybe more mature content down the road.
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Gallant by V.E. Schwab follows an unusual young woman named Olivia Prior. Olivia has always been perceived as odd by those around her due to her mutism, but what truly makes Olivia strange is her ability to see ghouls— the half-decayed ghosts of people long-gone. She’s grown up an orphan, with nothing but her late mother’s journal as any proof she ever had family at all. The journal is not a happy one— but one that shows her mother’s descent into madness and death, ending with a warning: “The shadows are not real, the dreams can never hurt you, and you will be safe as long as you stay away from Gallant.” And yet, Gallant proves hard to stay away from when a letter from her long-lost uncle appears at the school and she’s forced to leave everything behind to be reunited with her estranged family. But when she arrives at Gallant, her uncle is long-dead and there’s more going on than anyone will tell her— the dreams are becoming more real, the ghouls she sees are of members of her own family, and there’s something hidden on the other side of the garden wall… V.E. Schwab does it again with a perfectly atmospheric and eerie tale unlike any I’ve ever read before! The descriptions toe the line of visually appealing and utterly creepy, and the questions will keep you searching for answers until the very last page. This book may not be for everyone, but if you like books that are spooky but not scary, fantastical but not fantasy, and full of questions and mysteries, then I would highly recommend you check this one out!
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While this isn't usually my wheelhouse, it's VE Schwab so I had to read it. The writing is definitely good. It was delivered in a suspenseful way albeit a bit slow. It still would make you want to continue reading the book further. As a whole, I think it was not bad of read!
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This was my first V.E. Schwab book. If her other books are that good.... it won't be my last!

I grew up obsessed with gothic literature. I am really happy to reconnect with the genre!

Many many thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the complimentary e-copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Absolutely marvelous gothic mystery! It was a dream of a book. It's definitely one I will recommend to the teens coming to my programs. Thank you to Netgalley for letting me read this book early in exchange for an honest review.
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V.E. Schwab may not be for me anymore. It took me 75% of the book to figure out where we were going here, and a compelling premise turned into a disappointment.
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