Gallant by V.E. Schwab: Book Review
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source. - V.E. Schwab
Published March 1st 2022 by Greenwillow Books
Read Gallant here!
Listen to Gallant here!
After her trailblazer of a book, The invisible life of Addie La Rue, I'm sure even a prolific author such as V.E. Schwab would be concerned about what kind of novel could possibly come afterwards. However, she and her readers had absolutely zilch to be worried about because her latest release, a YA paranormal horror novel titled Gallant, more than steps up to the plate.
Much like The invisible life of Addie La Rue, Gallant sits in a category all its own. Schwab admits that it's a strange book, one that she didn't know where exactly it would fit. But it is that uniqueness that sets it apart and what I believe makes Schwab's stories so addictive. You never quite know what you're going to get and this story well and truly kept me turning page after page well into the night. FYI: I wouldn’t read this late at night if the book Coraline low-key traumatised you as a child (because same!).
Although, Gallant does give off a certain Coraline vibe, it is much more digestible and the protagonist, Olivia Prior, is far more likeable. Further, Schwab's voice in all her works is too distinct (as all great authors are) to be compared too strongly to another author. In fact, it is precisely this voice and her brilliant characterisation of Olivia Prior that lent to me being invested in her story from when I first read the blurb all the way till the final pages.
Olivia, a 16 year old orphan, has a boundless sense of curiosity, a quiet fierceness and a familiarity with all that lurks in the shadows. Additionally, Olivia Prior was born mute and throughout the story she is challenged to find alternate means of expressing herself. Schwab does a fantastic and seamless job of expressing Olivia's character without dialogue, and in a way that only adds more depth to her experience. There is a particular scene that especially details the frustration Olivia feels when her communication is compromised. Olivia is trying to interact with her cousin Matthew through sign language and all he has to do to take away her voice is to turn his back on her. This scene particularly resonated with me as I myself, and I'm sure many others, know what it's like to feel as if you have no say, no voice.
My only real criticism is that after reading Gallant I was left a bit wanting. It felt as if we were building towards something huge, yet the final chapter seemed to end too subtlety to match the rest of the plot arc. Schwab's writing is so all-encompassing and this novel in particular was intriguing (to the point of being immensely hard to put down), that it felt almost a shame to have it end so softly.
Additionally, it felt as if a few threads were left untied and only half formed. However, none of those threads are stark enough to completely ruin the ending, only enough to make me wonder whether there should have been more to it.
Overall, if you are a fan of creeping and hauntingly beautiful magic, of things that hide just outside your periphery and characters who dare to cross forbidden thresholds, then this book is a must-try for you.
If you've read Gallant then I'd love to know your thoughts in the comment section below! And if you haven't, then I'd also love to know which one of V.E. Schwab's books are your favourite (she has so many that it's hard to choose!).