Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Gallant by V.E. SchwabGallant by V.E. Schwab
Narrator: Julian Rhind-Tutt
Published by Greenwillow Books
Published on 1 March 2022
Genres: 20th Century, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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#1 New York Times–bestselling author V. E. Schwab weaves a dark and original tale about the place where the world meets its shadow, and the young woman beckoned by both sides. The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak in this stand-alone novel perfect for readers of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

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 first DNF of 2024.

I find this novel incredibly unengaging.

I like Schwab as a writer. I enjoyed both The Near Witch and The Invisible Life of Addie Larou. Schwab has a lyrical, whimsical, old-fashioned style of writing where every word is a masterpiece carefully woven together. The worldbuilding is lush and I feel as if I’m transported into a classic children’s book like The Secret Garden.

However I can’t keep reading this book. I’m bored, I’m unengaged, and I don’t really care about any of the characters. Maybe it’s the third person POV that’s not working for me. Maybe it’s the weirdly omniscient narration. Whatever it is, it’s not holding my attention.

When the blurb promised there was a secret Other house in a secret Other world I was kind of expecting something a bit like Coraline, but I’m one-third of the way through this book and nothing had happened except the main character Olivia has left a school where she was miserable and come to stay in a grand house. Nothing else has happened and when I listen to the audiobook, despite the narrator’s lovely voice and storytelling ability, I can’t concentrate. My mind wanders because this tale is not engaging to me.

This won Best YA Fantasy 2022 in the Goodreads Choice Awards so a fair amount of other people have enjoyed it. Unfortunately I am not one of them. However, this won’t put me off reading further Schwab books. She might just be a hit or miss writer for me.


About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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