Genre: Fiction; Fantasy; Young Adult
Note: There are NO spoilers in this review. When discussing in the comments, please provide a spoiler warning if needed.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ / 5
If you’re looking for a haunted house vibe, Gallant by V.E. Schwab is the perfect book. I wouldn’t call it Horror, but it has a sinister tension all throughout the novel that I found equal parts comforting and terrifying.
Olivia Prior, our scrappy main character, has always seen whispers of ghouls and shadows lurking around Merilance School for Girls. After receiving an invitation to return home to a family she’s never known, Olivia ignores the warnings in her late mother’s journal and journeys to Gallant.
The secrets of her family begin to unravel as she uncovers the truth of who she is. The decision to take her place with the Priors or follow in her father’s footsteps weighs on her as she explores Gallant.
This novel is a campfire ghost story brought to life. As always, Schwab is a fantastic story-teller, weaving a tale that grips and pulls you through the end. There is a slow build, but it’s worth the wait. My compulsion to call haunted house stories cozy says a lot about me, but this story wrapped me up in a warm blanket. The only thing missing was hot chocolate and a fire.
Gallant has a strong Rory Power (author of Wilder Girls and Burn Our Bodies Down) vibe, in that the descriptions drive the terror and the constant anxiety of the story climbs in a steady pace. It’s somehow horrifying without the gore and jump scares.
I don’t know if I have to give you a criticism or explanation of why Gallant didn’t reach five stars for me, but here goes. Calm, cozy, warm – those are the words that come to mind for this. It was a simple and enjoyable story. And it was perfect for me when I read it, but it wasn’t hard to put down during reading sessions. My life wasn’t somehow altered by this story or the characters.
Every book won’t do that, and that’s okay. But if you’re looking for an easy read to lose yourself in – I highly recommend Gallant.