"A bone-chilling standalone . . . which fuses Shirley Jackson's gothic horror sensibilities with the warmth and dark whimsy of Neil Gaiman."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Gripping worldbuilding, well-rounded characters, and fantastic horror."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Unsettling and intriguing."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (starred review)

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

#1 New York Times-bestselling author V. E. Schwab weaves a dark and original tale about the place where the world meets its shadow, and the young woman beckoned by both sides. The Secret Garden meets Crimson Peak in this stand-alone novel perfect for readers of Holly Black and Neil Gaiman.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for Girls, and all she has of her past is her mother's journal--which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home; it doesn't matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile, or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant--but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

New York Times-bestselling author V. E. Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, stand-alone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages.

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352 pages

Average rating: 7.32




Community Reviews

Mar 23, 2024
6/10 stars
3.5 stars!

I surprised myself with this rating (I had even been considering a 2 for a while) because I stalled so long on this book, but the second half of this book made up for how slow the first half was. It took me a long time to get into the plot, and I think I had two long (i.e. multiple months) pauses in between before I finished the book to the point where I thought about dropping it altogether.

And then of course, I hit the part where stuff actually started happening and then I couldn't put it down. I think that V.E. Schwab is just hit or miss for me because of how much things sometimes drag at times and then at other times is so good (see: [b:Vicious|40874032|Vicious (Villains, #1)|V.E. Schwab||19250870] and [b:Vengeful|26856502|Vengeful (Villains, #2)|V.E. Schwab||46895070]). But something that I do love about her is just the depth and variety of her imagination. I don't know how she comes up with all these different ideas, but they are all so interesting that I am forever hooked onto her writing despite also struggling with it sometimes.

The antagonist of this book reminded me quite a bit of the thistle man (or whatever he was called) from [b:Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell|14201|Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell|Susanna Clarke||3921305] (which I really want to reread at some point)! This was great horror vibes for me because I'm not a fan of jump scares or any of the traditional horror tropes, but I love the fear of the unknown and indescribable. We never find out the origin of the man beyond the wall and his shadows and all that, but I'm okay with that because they just are, and we can accept that as readers. Olivia as a main character really grew on me as well. It was strange to have a main character unable to speak, since that limits a lot of interaction, but it really worked once you find out more about her parentage and as she explores the other world.

I wanted more out of the relationship between Olivia and Matthew. I feel like things changed very suddenly and the book felt...not incomplete because the story drew to a close perfectly fine, but just like - the first half could have been edited to make the story fuller and less slow, maybe? I'm not sure, but I wanted more something. Anyway, I'm glad I finally finished this book after 100 years!
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Mar 13, 2024
10/10 stars
Loved it
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Luna Atmosphere
Mar 10, 2024
10/10 stars
Sobbed my eyes out to this one. It was so good, I was so invested in the story and I wanted to learn everything about Olivia and her family. My favorite character was Matthew- he made me so sad all the time and I guess I crave pain. I loved the vibe, haunted house done phenomenally. Got me feeling all melancholy now
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Jan 26, 2024
10/10 stars
loved this book especially the reader for the audiobook.
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Jan 25, 2024
6/10 stars
I definitely prefer Victoria Schwab's YA/Older novels over MG. This had a great premise, but didn't feel fully fleshed out, and the characters didn't have much depth to them. I didn't even realise Olivia was 16 till I JUST saw the synopsis - she seemed like a 12 year old... It all seemed a little choppy and didn't quite fall in place as well as I'd anticipated.

The ending picked up in the way that Schwab's novels usually do, and the writing was wonderful and engaging as always, but everything else fell short. I didn't hate it, it just wasn't for me.
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