Book Briefs: Gallant


V.E. Schwab

After winning a Goodreads Choice Award in 2022, Gallant by V.E. Schwab, quickly gained popularity, and for good reason. The book is an emotional read with themes of light and darkness, life and death, freedom, and birthright.

Christina Huang, Guest Contributor

Gallant, by V.E. Schwab, quickly gained popularity since its original publication, gaining a Goodreads Choice Award as Winner for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction for 2022. 

Filled with enticing illustrations to reference back to while reading, the story carries with it an air of mystery as it follows the story of Olivia Prior, an orphan left at Merilance School for Girls with an ability to see things others don’t see and she can’t feel, no voice to express herself, and her mother’s journal— composed of drawings, messages to her father, and a warning, on the only message to Olivia, not to go to Gallant. They’re her mother’s words, the only memory she has of her. Ones that seem to document her descent into madness. 

When a letter arrives from her uncle, she makes the decision to leave Merilance, to search for her family, her home. And to venture to the very place her mother warned her against. The Prior family estate; Gallant.

When she arrives, however, she isn’t met with a welcoming uncle but rather more mysteries, more secrets, and a house so startlingly different from Merilance. A house she could call home, despite a less-than-friendly cousin and mysteries only getting more complex as she investigates further.

Though not as fast-paced as some, Gallant sets a steady rhythm that leaves readers only able to keep reading in anticipation, waiting to finally find the answer they’re looking for. The final part, the final answer needed for them to piece together the puzzle that is Gallant

In the course of the final 100 or so pages, this is exactly what readers are given, gradually gaining more and more of the answers they crave as Olivia unravels the secrets of Gallant and her family’s story— including the ones of her father and the confusing messages of her mother’s journal. 

Readers may find themselves going back to the illustrations, recalling certain past events in order to make connections and inferences, attempting to solve the mystery along with Olivia.

For more emotional readers, Gallant can prove to be a bit of an emotional journey, common emotions being hope as they root for Olivia—while she tries to find somewhere she can call home, somewhere she is wanted and happy—to terror, fearing for her as the very same hope they had held is dashed by the circumstances. Nearer to the resolution, the emotions hit more strongly, as smaller mysteries in the back of readers’ minds are resolved. 

The captivating writing, with descriptions that are chilling yet elegant all at once, a plot fairly simple and easy to follow, the secrets of a house that ensnares readers, leaving a pressing desire to find the answers, and a character worth staying by—to uncover those mysteries with, while hoping for her to find a home, a family, to inevitably return to—all make this a book not easily forgotten, leaving readers with thoughts on family, the importance of one and the longing so many have for one, ideas of light and darkness, life and death, freedom, birthright, dreams and their grips on reality, inner demons and battles to fight, and choice.