fantasy · review · romance

Gabriel And The Swallows – Esther Dalseno

“I see just a little girl. A girl who happens to have swallows wings.”

 

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Blurb:

“A lonely farm boy.
A girl with swallow’s wings.
An ancient city buried in a volcano.
A mystery old as blood and bone.

There is more to Gabriel than the life he’s ashamed of – the son of peasant winemakers, bullied relentlessly on account of his disabled mother. For Gabriel has a secret: the elaborate dream world he descends into at night – a grandiose, vivid existence – is becoming more real than his waking life.
Everything changes for Gabriel when he rescues a wounded creature – a miraculous girl with swallow’s wings – from the voracious pursuit of Alfio Gallo, a dangerous old enemy. 
Wrestling with manhood whilst beckoned by ancient rites and foreign lands, Gabriel is about to make a deadly decision that changes the course of life as he knows it…as long as he can decide which reality he’s in.”

*This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

The story follows Gabriel, a young peasant boy who lives on a vineyard in Italy where his father works too hard and his mother has some quirks. Gabriel experiences strange dreams that seem to mirror life and often leave him confused between what is the dream and what is reality. One day, Gabriel brings home an injured creature covered in blood. He soon discovers that what he found is in fact a girl with swallow wings. His mother becomes very worried and locks herself away, believing the girl has been created by God or the devil.

Alfio Gallo, a dangerous enemy from another farm, comes asking about a falcon he shot down that he thinks landed on their property. Gabriel manages to make him leave without seeing the girl. As time passes, it becomes too risky for Volatile (the swallow girl) to stay and she decides to leave, promising she will return in time for Carnevale, a grand masked European tradition.

That’s as much in terms of plot as I can give you without really spoiling it for you, and the beauty really is in the discovery.

One thing I really liked about this book was the setting. Through the elegant descriptions given, it just seemed like a beautiful, tranquil place to be, I felt like I was really there. I’ve never read a book set in Italy before so on a personal level that was a nice touch.

This book gave me serious Ava Lavender vibes. While Gabriel And The Swallows has fantasy elements to it, the story is very slow. But this is in no way whatsoever a bad thing. Gabriel is a boy who lives a perfectly normal life, despite having this strange girl hiding away in his home. He gets bullied, had failed relationships, goes to college. Volatile is just an interesting secret part.  While she does consume a lot of his thoughts, the story isn’t entirely centred on what goes on with her and them as a pair.

A character that really stood out for me was Orlando Khan. His friendship was beautiful to witness, especially when Gabriel tries to explain that his mother is “basically retarded” and Orlando just shrugs it off like it isn’t a big deal. That’s a true friend right there.

The writing was lyrical; almost like music in the way it swept me off my feet and tugged on my heartstrings.

Apart from Truthwitch, I haven’t been affected by a novel this much in such a long time. I have a feeling this book will stay with me for years to come.

This is the first in a duology.
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