Book Review: Gallant by Victoria Schwab
Publisher’s Book Description: 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.
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?
What if there was a world almost like ours, but darker? And what if you found the seam between these worlds and could cross over into that darker version of this world? Could you resist crossing over the seam? Could you resist the darkness?
I am a fan of Victoria Schwab’s books. The Archived is one of my favorites, and you can’t go wrong with This Savage Song and The City of Ghosts. So I was very excited to receive an arc of Gallant, which did not disappoint.
Carl Jung wrote that we all have a shadow self. It’s the idea that we all have a part of ourselves that we want to repress out of existence. In Gallant, there is an entire shadow world and it haunts ours. In particular, it haunts a family who seems to be tasked with minding the gap between the two worlds. This is the story of Olivia, and how finding out you have a family that you have always yearned for isn’t necessarily the best of things.
When we first meet Olivia, she is at some type of home for girls without a family. And it is clear that she doesn’t fit in and is struggling. She gets a reprieve when she receives a letter inviting her to come live with family she never knew she had. Her dreams are quickly shattered, however, when she gets there. This family has secrets and they don’t really want her there, and she has none of the information she needs to protect herself from what she is about to discover.
Gallant has some thematic elements that readers may recognize from stories like Coraline by Neil Gaiman and The Thief of Always by Clive Barker, but it’s a compelling story on its own that mesmerizes with its haunting edges. It’s a dark tale about what happens when this world comes into contact with its shadow self. It’s a delight of elegant horror that tantalizes the reader with first the hope than the threat of what if we gave into our darker desires and let a world that is almost like ours, but just a smidge darker, bleed into ours.
This twisted tale should delight not only fans of Schwab, but those of books like Caraval by Stephanie Garber and those who read Coraline and are ready to take a plunge into the darkness again, but on a scale designed to delight slightly older readers. Victoria Schwab continues to be a leading horror author for young adults.
This book comes out March 1st from Greenwillow Books
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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