‘Gallant’: a beautifully haunting ghost story

July 14, 2022

TITLE: Gallant
AUTHOR: V.E. Schwab
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: all ages
PAGES: 334pg
PUBLISHER: Greenwillow Books

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?

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Perhaps you are haunting me.
What a comforting thought.
Maybe it’s you in the darkness.
I swear I’ve seen it move.

Let me begin by breaking one of my own rules: I very rarely compare one book to another, but Gallant reminded me of the eerie, atmospheric melancholy and overwhelming familial love that Neil Gaiman brought us with The Graveyard Book, and knowing that V is a big fan of Gaiman’s, I don’t think they would mind me saying that any fan of The Graveyard Book NEEDS a copy of Gallant in their lives. (Except, honestly, I liked Gallant even more than TGB.) I adored the mixture of tragedy and homecoming, the helpful ghouls and sinister forces, and our lonely, lovable protagonist. Most of all, I loved the prose and how V let their poetic nature positively shine in this story. One of my copies of this book is absolutely full of page tabs to mark so many of the quotes that resonated with me.

Last night I went beyond the wall. And I met Death.

I wanted Gallant to be a real place and wanted to visit it, to soak in its sad, eerie darkness. I loved the estate, the descriptions of it and its characters as well, and how broken and lonely they all were in their own ways. I also was so pleased by the fact that Olivia was mute and spoke in sign language, as that’s something we so rarely see in stories (alongside the implication that she was ace and aro). Truly, all of these characters just meant so much to me and my heart ached for them all. I wanted to climb into the pages and protect these poor souls.

But there are lower powers, stranger ones, and there in the dark, behind the door, she prays to them.

I wish I could review this book in a way that does it justice, but I simply can’t because it’s too close to my heart. V’s writing has this way of sinking into my bones and holding me hostage a little more every time I read one of their works, and every single time I turn the final page in a V.E. Schwab title, I find myself in awe at the impact their writing has had on me. I love this book so much and I recommend it with my whole heart, and I know it’s the kind of story that I’m going to re-visit time and time again in the future. Something about it feels timeless like that.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy! All thoughts are honest and my own.

content warnings →

parent loss, grief, sibling loss, death, ableism

representation →

Olivia is mute, uses sign language, and is implied to be asexual and aromantic; Matthew is implied to be dyslexic


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. I am so glad you liked this, because I was overall kinda middling on it. I wanted more, I wanted it to be a deeper story, but it was quite short. But again — I’m thrilled you enjoyed this!! I’m a huge fan of Schwab’s.

      1. I’m sorry it didn’t hit the mark for you more! I definitely get what you mean about it being so short — I wouldn’t have minded 100 more pages in Gallant, tbh! ♥

    1. This is such an amazing review! I can tell how much you loved this book and I love when I can feel that through reviews 😍 I also really enjoyed Gallant and thought it was so beautifully and hauntingly written. I still have TGB on my TBR (I know, I know) but now I feel like I *must* bump it up my list and read it asap!

      1. Awwww, thank you so much! 🥺 That made me feel all warm and fuzzy to read this comment, because sometimes I can’t even figure out how to word what a book meant to me and it feels like I’m just gushing nonsense. 😂 So I’m very happy to hear that you could feel my love for this story! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, too, and I really hope you like The Graveyard Book if/when you read it! It’s SUCH a perfect Halloween read, btw! 👀

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