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. Aided by the beautiful and mysterious Orlando Khan, Gabriel is conflicted by unanswered questions: who is the Dark One that dwells in the medieval tunnels beneath their city? Is he just a figment of Gabriel’s powerful imagination? And is the foundling really who she says she is?
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.
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**This book was sent to me in exchange for my honest & unbiased review**
First off, this isn’t the type of book that I typically read. I adore contemporary romances, YA dystopian, and SOME fantasy or paranormal. This was definitely a stretch of a read for me. BUT with that being said, I found myself enjoy it — for the most part. GABRIEL AND THE SWALLOWS is definitely a lyrical, romantic read with fantastical elements. It’s also a bit of a coming of age story for a young boy that is trying to find some type of identity outside of what he’s always believed himself to be.
Gabriel spends a lot of his life feeling sad and embarrassed about his family — his mother is disabled with some issues with her mind and his father is, in my opinion, a bit of a pacifist that doesn’t really do Gabriel any good, especially since he’s bullied because of his mother’s condition. So his existence isn’t the happiest. But Gabriel, in his sleep, has dreams of a life that starts to become more of a reality than his actual life.
This boy’s life starts to change when he rescues a fantastical creature, a girl with swallow’s wings from a man named Alfio Gallo. He builds a bit of a budding sibling relationship with the girl, as well as makes friends with a boy named Orlando. There’s just a lot that happens. And throughout the book, Gabriel is struggling to find out where he belongs and who he is.
I found this story to be really intense at times, really deep, and even confusing. And I think that was because of the lyrical format of the book. Despite my dislike for the format, it was a smart and creative move on the part of the author because it cast an atmospheric aesthetic that had it not been there, the book would have been severely lacking.
Along the way, the reader is introduced to quite a few characters that aid in the shaping of who Gabriel turns out to be. His growth, though very slow in progression, was done at a very intentional pace. It was very frustrating, but quite rewarding at by end of the story. He was a bit of a pendulum throughout the book, growing and regressing, back and forth. It was hard to not want to strangle him at times.
The relationships between our main characters and the revolving characters that made appearances were strong enough for me to believe them, but there were some that appeared to be more developed than others. Orlando, though a very mysterious and questionable character, was something that I enjoyed reading about. Especially whenever he interacted with Gabriel.
I can’t say that I LOVED the book simply because I found no true connection with the characters, but what I can say is that I saw a lot of beautiful writing. A passionate author with a story to tell, and a mind that extends well beyond just the surface of what your typical book can portray. There are TONS of people who will absolutely LOVE this book, and that is warranted. It was very well done. It just wasn’t for me. I found myself quite incompatible with it. And that’s just fine too.