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.