Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication date: March 1, 2022
Genre: middle grade
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?
New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, standalone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages.
A huge thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the chance to read and review one of my most anticipated reads in 2022! I cried when I saw this! I love everything Victoria Schwab writes and this book is absolutely fantastic!
TW: bullying, murder
The secret garden meets Crimson Peak and Coraline in Victoria Schwab’s new standalone, a brilliant and lush story told by the main character Olivia, in her journey to belong somewhere and to find her family and place in the world.
“Home is a choice”
Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, she can’t speak and the only thing she has of her family is her mother’s journal, words she committed to memory, trying to understand and know her, even when words unravel into madness. When a letter invites Olivia to come home, to Gallant she accepts right away, hoping to find her own family. There, though, no one is expecting her, no one wrote the letter, her cousin Matthew is hostile and the house is haunted by half-formed ghouls. But Olivia had always seen ghouls and she doesn’t want to leave the first place she feels like home and she’s ready to unravel every secret of the house.
Crossing a mysterious and ruined wall brings her to another Gallant, a place haunted by solid ghouls, a place crumbling and ruined, a world where Death rules and Olivia has to take a stand against it, while learning to belong finally somewhere.
Gallant is absolutely amazing, a story about life and death, shadows and demons and a young woman beckoned by both worlds. It’s a story about belonging, family and struggling to find one’s place in the world, a dark fairytale.
Victoria Schwab’s writing style and creativity are, like always, amazing and I couldn’t stop reading this book, I was hooked since the first page. It’s haunting, beautiful, moving and heartwrenching and filled my heart with longing, love and hope.
Gallant is told by Olivia, who is a magnificent main character, brilliant and stubborn. She lived almost all her life in Merilance, in a place where she wasn’t able to belong, bullied because she can’t speak, hurt and ignored, but still full of resiliance, strength and determination. Almost like in a fairytale, where the orphan gets a letter from a lost family member, beckoning her home, Olivia follows the letter, that brings her in a place that seems to her like a paradise, where she can finally know more about her family, what happened to them, how they were and to belong somewhere. But Gallant is full of secrets, losses and risks and Olivia has to prepare to defend it and its inhabitants from the dark forces.
The plot is brilliantly written, full of twists and it’s a character driven one, beginning with a lost and curious Olivia and ending with a stronger main character, more confident and conscious of herself and her family’s history.
The story is intertwined with entries from Olivia’s mother’s journal and with eerie and peculiar drawings and, with Olivia, the reader follows them, trying to understand them.
I loved the setting, how Olivia went from the grays in Merilance to the colours in Gallant, with flowers and grass and sunshine and how strongly the two Gallants differed from one other, the first luminous, even though filled with few inhabitants, but full of memories and losses, the one in the shadow world eerie, gray and lost.
I think it was peculiar how Olivia was attracted by colours, in the outside world, in her clothes’ choices, shedding the grays of Merilance, fighting against the world beyond the wall and its Master.
If Olivia is the main character of Gallant, her mother’s words “haunts” her and the whole story, woven together, swinging from past to present, helping her and the reader piecing all the parts, in a moving and heartwrenching story of love, loss, sacrifice and bond. It’s almost like we have two stories, Olivia’s and her mother’s, past and present intertwining and living side by side.
The side characters are also skillfully written, Matthew with his losses and sacrifices and anger, Hannah and Edgar in their stubborness and ways of protecting themselves and the Priors and they represent something for Matthew and Olivia: a home, a family, people ready to fight for them.
It’s a story about love, loss and sacrifice, about belonging somewhere and to someone and the strength in resisting one’s own shadows, nightmares and bad thoughts.
I loved the book’s message, about strength and resiliance and the importance of holding on, keep fighting against all kind of shadows, reals and in our minds.