This was a creepy, quick read, which I enjoyed much more than The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. If I recall correctly, this was kind of a dark take on The Secret Garden which I’m pretty sure I read, when I was like ten. Do I remember anything about that book, not a bloody thing.
The plot centres around Olivia, an orphan when we encounter her, with only the journal of her mother to keep her company. Olivia can’t talk and is a bit of an outcast in the orphanage. However, one day her luck changes when a long lost uncle invites her to live at his estate, called Gallant. Of course, there is something weird and creepy about it. And I’ll stop there for fear of spoilers.
It was a very quick read and isn’t very long. It was the sort of thing I could have done in an afternoon rather than three evenings. It’s very atmospheric, with the kind of vibe that Schwab can be very good at. I do love how the revelations about her parents, Gallant and her own strange are sort of layered but also sort of obvious, only fully revealed as Olivia finds out more about the estate and all her family.
On the downside, everything happens very fast. There isn’t a lot of time for any sort of character development. Most of the changes in people feel quite unearned. I think in that way, we don’t know enough about Olivia to feel that her story arc feels entirely realistic. There isn’t a lot that happens, and what does happen, just zooms by quickly.
But it’s still fun and for a short novel, and I liked that it moved along at a fairly rapid clip.
And of course, there’s always the little stab of sad that comes with reading something by V E Schwab. I think a fun challenge for her would be to write a story where it’s just happy and nothing bad happens to any of the characters. Maybe not as interesting though. Anyway, it was a fun, quick read.