(2) 4-6 Olivia endures a miserable existence at the dreary Merilance School for Independent Girls--her inability to speak and upsetting ability to see ghouls make her unpopular with the other orphans and the matrons. Then a letter arrives from a hitherto-unknown uncle, welcoming Olivia back home to the family estate, ­Gallant. Despite the pleasant surroundings and cheerful estate caretakers, something appears to be dreadfully wrong. Olivia starts seeing her own mother's ghoul. The sinister garden wall seems to be always in shadow. And why is her cousin Matthew so unfriendly? When Olivia starts exploring Gallant, she discovers a mirrored world where a Death-like demon reigns, making knights of his shadows and sucking the life out of every living thing. Olivia also discovers the secret of her own birth, the reasons for her mother's madness, and even an explanation for Matthew's standoffishness. Olivia is a stalwart and sympathetic ­heroine, whose actions occasionally defy the rules of the house but never those of the heart. Bittersweet, gripping, and with atmosphere to spare, Schwab's (The Archived, rev. 1/13) latest gothic tale is exactly the right mix of dark and delightful.


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