Posted in Reading, Review

Gallant by V.E. Schwab [REVIEW]

“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.”

Do you ever finish reading a book and think “oh that was a Me type of story”? Gallant was one of those for me. I finished reading and wanted to fold myself into the pages and stay there, and I really appreciate stumbling across those kinds of books rather than genuine perfect five star reads. I will say now that I did give this book five stars, but it was for those reasons and the fact that the book hit so many of my niche interests rather than the quality of the story and writing. An honest rating would be closer to 3.5 stars so I am going to take that into consideration for this review.

Gallant is a book where the entire plot is revealed in the book description. Our main character Olivia grew up in a school for girls with only her mother’s journal which documents a spiral into madness for company. She receives a letter that invites her to come home to Gallant but no one is expecting her when she arrives. She feels at home enough that her hostile cousin and the ghouls in the hallways don’t scare her away. The house is full of secrets, including a crumbling version of the house behind a ruined wall that has unravelled generations of her family. Olivia’s big decision is to choose where she wants to belong. I am not joking when I say that everything you need to know is in the synopsis. The story is relatively simple and I think that this book stands as a great introduction to Schwab’s young adult and adult works.

The first ~60% of the book takes place over a handful of days and is an introduction to the characters and a detailed description of the house. More than any other author that I’ve adores, Schwab is able to write characters and side characters that stick with me long after I’ve read the last page. Olivia is one of the first mute characters I’ve read about – definitely the first mute protagonist – and I adore how Schwab made Olivia’s feelings and intentions known without sacrificing a thing.

The house is the true main character of this book and the story seems to be more focused on Olivia unearthing the secrets of the house and her family history rather than the points of conflict mentioned in the book description. The storyline is also a quieter creeping kind of magic rather than the suspenseful horror that I was expecting. Schwab’s prose truly shines with the descriptions of the house: it’s beautiful without being overly flowery.

We are introduced to the antagonist of the novel around the 60-70% mark, so I think you can tell that the bulk of the book’s conflict is squished into a third of the pages. I think this final third takes place over one day or one evening so the conflict of the plot moves swiftly and really drew me in to the point where I couldn’t put the book down. However, this book could’ve benefitted from gaining the hundred pages that Addie La Rue didn’t need. I think my biggest flaw with the length of the book is how the mystery unfolds: as Olivia begins to piece things together, the answers are given outright, robbing us of the satisfaction of uncovering the mystery ourselves. The book really needed those extra pages so some elements of the story weren’t explained so explicitly and other elements weren’t entirely unexplained.

In summary, Gallant balances the heartbreak of losing a family with the warmth of finding a place to belong. Schwab shows how found family is fundamental to human nature, and how sometimes you must fight death to survive.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads because I am incredibly biased toward anything that tells my niche interests, but an honest rating would be more like 3.5 stars.


On a cold Autumn evening back in 2008, seven-year-old Tegan Anderson began to write their first short stories, finding a more creative way to learn their spellings. Many years and many more short stories later, they haven't stopped for anything. Now, they're writing more than they ever believed possible. Tegan may write the worlds they would prefer to exist in but currently lives in Devon with their overflowing bookshelves and expanding imagination.

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