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Thursday, April 14, 2022

Book Review: Gallant by V.E. Schwab

BOOK review
Started on: 17 March 2022
Finished on: 9 April 2022
Title: Gallant
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Pages: 352 pages / 384 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication: 2022
Price: Rp 184,000 (

Rating: 2/5
"You will be safe as long as you stay away from Gallant.
She squints at the word, for years a mystery—still a mystery."
Olivia Prior grew up in Merilance School for Girls, and all she has of her past is her mother's journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Olivia thought she had no family member left when suddenly a letter came from her uncle, inviting her to come home to Gallant. However, when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. Her cousin Matthew is hostile, but Olivia will not leave the first place that finally feels like home to her. Gallant seems to hold a lot of secrets and Olivia is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in place just like Gallant, but the manor is crumbling and there's a mysterious figure that rules over all. Slowly, Olivia begins to see what has unraveled generations of her family and where her father actually came from.
"Come home, the letter says.
Stay away, her mother warned."
"Free—a small word for such a magnificent thing. I don't know what it feels like, but I want to find out."
It pains me to give such a low rating for a book written by V.E. Schwab because I enjoyed some of her other works. To be honest, I went into this book with a pretty high expectation because the blurb intrigued me and the cover art is so gorgeous. Unfortunately, I didn't end up enjoying this book as much as I thought I would due to various reasons. But before I continue on with my review, I have to say that I started reading this book during a very hectic time in my life. From the point I started reading Gallant, I only managed to read about a few pages each day—that's why it took me almost a month to finish. Because of that, I think I didn't get enough time to immerse myself in the story, the setting, or even be invested in the characters. I feel like I need to give this context because this review is solely based on my personal experience. Maybe if I read this book at a different time, I might be able to love it as much as some people do.
"A mother made of flesh and blood. A father made of ash and bone.
What does that make her?"
The story focuses on our main character, Olivia Prior, an orphan who grew up in Merilance School for Girls. She's also mute, so she has difficulty communicating with other people and prefers to be on her own because no one is making an effort to understand her. All she knows of her past comes from her mother's journal—which is filled with writings and drawings that Olivia couldn't fully understand. The first part of this book is dedicated to Olivia's life at Merilance, but I honestly don't understand the significance of it to the rest of the plot. None of the characters in Merilance play any role in the later chapters and it doesn't necessarily build Olivia's character either. I only know that Olivia can see ghouls and the contents of her mother's journal is very disconcerting.

It gets more interesting when Olivia suddenly receives a note from her uncle inviting her to come home to Gallant—a manor that was mentioned in her mother's journal with a warning to stay away from it. Upon her arrival at Gallant, Olivia meets her cousin, Matthew Prior, who immediately insists that she should leave. However, Olivia is determined to stay in the first place that finally feels like home to her. She's resolved to uncover the secrets of Gallant and find out what truly happened to her mother. When Olivia accidentally crossed a ruined wall, she finds herself in a different version of Gallant where the ghouls are solid and there's a mysterious figure in control of everything. From this point onwards, I genuinely feels so confused about a lot of things—but I guess it's because I only read a little bit at a time, so I wasn't able to make the connection between the hints at the beginning with how the story unfolds at the end. Nonetheless, I still think that the plot didn't progress smoothly and the fact that the villain was so easily 'defeated' makes him not as horrifying as the author intended. For me personally, this book felt rather bland and there's no exciting or thrilling moment that got me excited to see how the story will unfold. The characters are lacking personality as well so I wasn't invested in them and doesn't really have the desire to root for them 🙃. The revelation about Olivia's parents are the most interesting part of this book, even though I have no idea how their relationship worked 🤷 (not going to share the details here to avoid spoilers). The ending was quite anticlimactic for me and doesn't make me feel satisfied when I closed the book.
"To be a Prior is to live and die on these grounds, driven mad by ghosts."
"There is no rest in sleep.
These dreams will be the death of me.
Overall, I think my main issue with this book is the confusing plot, because I was able to enjoy V.E. Schwab's writing just fine. The first part of the story when Olivia is still in Merilance was more gripping for me rather than the part set in Gallant. Despite all my disappointments, I think it's very interesting to read about a character who cannot speak because there's not a lot of dialogue that can happen verbally. And even though I didn't end up loving this book, I'm still looking forward to V.E. Schwab's work in the future—hopefully I'll love the next one that she writes!
"But home is a choice.
And she has chosen Gallant."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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