Gallant is a story of short, sharp chapters written in 6 parts. The edition is nicely illustrated with excerpts from a journal that the main characters mother left her. This is a treasured item that is interwoven throughout the story. It’s written as a Victorian ghost story of darkened corridors and gothic mansions lit by flickering candles. The protagonist is a young female character named Olivia Prior who is struck silent from birth and so can’t shout or scream at the ghouls who haunt her. No-one else can see the ghouls that wonder her surroundings. Rather than scaring her she has learnt that if she pays them attention they wither away.
Raised in an orphanage by vile and bullying matrons and amongst girls who shun her silent strangeness she is set free by a letter arriving from a long lost uncle inviting her to her ancestral home, Gallant. There is a touch of Stephen Kings Carrie about Olivia who has a vengeful streak in her when she is wronged or bullied by her fellow pupils and no one was sorry to see her go.
Gallant is a house with great iron gates and large grounds but it has a dark reflection in an alternate reality where she meets Death, a character that is reminiscent of a Tim Burton animation . This is a world that would not sit out of place in the TV show Stranger Things. She finds another journal of her mothers and a dark secret is hinted at that talks to not just the family history but what happened to her mother. The house is her ancestral home but it holds the Prior family in a pact that deprives them of sleep and haunts their dreams turning them into gaunt shells of their former selves until they wither and die. Matthew, her cousin, is the last living Prior until Olivia arrives and he initially doesn’t want her there but they arrive at an uneasy alliance to fight the common enemy ending in Olivia going to the other side to save this new family she has never known.
Read more about V E Schwab’s journey with Gallant in this interview on Paste Magazine
Publisher: Titan Books
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