I will read literally anything by V E Schwab. A short story, a chonky novel, a shopping list. Her wonderful fascination with darkness, death and evil, as well as her engrossing writing style make it so easy to read absolutely anything she creates.
Author: V E Schwab
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 8th March 2022
Rating: 4.5 stars
Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with.
She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge.
Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…
Gallant feels like a young adult take on the classic tropes of the gothic genre – the spooky house, the something other out in the darkness, the orphaned child and the mysterious family. But there’s also something so Schwab about it – the fascination with death, with decay and with liminality – the ability to step over the border from one place to another. It’s pacey and a little spooky, but with the focus on Olivia and all of the different powers and faculties that she possesses.
What makes the story exceptional is the wonderful, lyrical, precise turn of phrase used to tell it, as well as the lingering, malignant fear that lurks in the corner of your eye.
I enjoyed the portrayal of Olivia as a non-verbal character, and the importance played to sight and communication through sign language – as well feeling her frustrations when others refused to engage with her.
The inclusion of illustrations was a wonderful addition – at first they acted as just backing for the story, but as it progressed they played even greater importance. At times this was hammered home a little more bluntly, but it was still so enjoyable to see illustrations that worked so perfectly with the words.
Rating 4.5 stars
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.