Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…
Olivia Prior has spent most of her life in the Merilance School for Girls following the death of her mother. Out of the blue she receives a mysterious letter inviting her to the Gallant estate, to a family she didn’t know existed. Once she arrives at Gallant, with the help of her mother’s old journal, she begins to unlock dark family secrets and tensions begin to heighten. The setting and atmosphere is eerie and haunting, the house has hidden rooms and secret doors and lurking ghouls around every corner. There is also a sadness coming in through the pages too. The writing style is captivating and it is very hard to put this book down The illustrations are amazing and linked the story together beautifully. I also enjoyed reading the journal pages in the middle of the book as the story falls into place.
Olivia has been has been mute from birth and the author does a fabulous job of expressing Olivia’s feelings without her uttering a single word. She also has a unique ability in which she can see ghouls, although they are not a threat to her and she has grown used to them being around. She is a strong and fearless lead character and has ferocious temper if provoked. There is only a small cast of side characters, Edgar and Hannah are warm and nurturing. I liked Matthew’s character arc and after an instant dislike of him due to his cold and unwelcoming nature, I found myself warming to him as the story unfolded.
Die hard Schwab fans may not enjoy this as much as some of her other books, it is very different from some of her other work, including the very popular The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue. However, it’s a very clever story which is beautifully written, atmospheric and the illustrations are a creative and imaginative way of linking the story together. I was very lucky to be sent art prints from the publisher and these will look great framed and I’m sure admired.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date (UK): 8 March 2022
Page Count: 448
Genre: YA Fantasy
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊