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…
First of all, the writing. V.E. Schwab’s writing never misses. It’s always beautiful, lyrical and utterly captivating. The writing here was wonderful as expected!
The story itself – Interesting and gripping from the beginning. It was mysterious and dark. I’m not usually a fan of horror/creepy books but this worked for me, maybe because it’s YA.
The main character, Olivia, was an easy character to like. I found her pretty relateable and easy to emphasise with. She’s mute and cannot speak, I’m not sure how accurate the representation for this is and cannot comment on that aspect. As someone who struggled to talk to people growing up, I could relate to the frustration of wanting to say something but just couldn’t.
Plot-wise, it started off really well.
The concepts and ideas are always brilliant with Schwab, but I do tend to find her endings fall a bit flat. This was the same for me. I really enjoy the beginning, it slowed down towards the middle and then the ending felt a bit off.
There was just *something* missing from this story. I expected more and it just didn’t reach that for me, personally. I cannot really pinpoint what exactly it needed but it just needed something.
Overall, it was a decent read. I liked Olivia as the protagonist and I loved the gothic horror vibes. It was atmospheric and its strengths definitely lay with the writing, worldbuilding and main character. I don’t mind the more vibes driven novel, but I feel like there could have been a bit more to the plot.
It’s described as The Secret Garden x Crimson Peak – that is a very accurate description. If that sounds like your thing, this is well worth a read.
Rating 3.5 Stars
* Thanks to Titan Books for gifting me an ARC and pins. All opinions are my own and I bought the special edition with my own money.