I received this book for free from Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Valiant by Sarah McGuire
Published by Egmont on April 28th, 2015
Genres: Fairy Tale Retelling, Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Saville despises the bolts of velvet and silk that her father loves- he's always prized them more than he's ever loved her. Yet when he's struck ill, she'll do anything to survive, even donning boys' clothes and begging a commission to sew for the king.
Piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants led by a man who cannot be defeated. And they're marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. But Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. She tricks them into leaving, but tales of the daring tailor's triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And mere stories won't deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.
When I first heard about Valiant, a fairy tale retelling with gender bending set at court and involving battles with giants, I knew I had to have this book in my life. It had so many of my favorite things that I couldn’t resist. And while I’m late in reviewing the book because the release date was moved up without my knowledge, I’m so glad I managed to fit this one into my schedule after all. Let me take a moment and give this brilliant and fun debut novel some of the publicity it so rightly deserves, so it doesn’t fall into the forgotten wasteland of Egmont’s last list.
Valiant tells the story of Saville, the daughter of the Tailor who arrives at Reggen and then falls ill. To keep food on the table, Saville disguises herself as a boy, the Tailor’s apprentice, to take on commissions from the king. Saville immediately impressed me as a character. She’s been fighting for the love of her father for so long without success, yet still she cares for him when he needs it. She’s kind, as she takes in Will, a homeless boy, and brave, as she fights to protect him when the giants come to take over the city. She has to fight traditional gender roles every day, and she takes action when even the bravest knights do not. She is a feminist role model, for sure.
The story is incredibly fun and entertaining, full of excellent fairy tale escapades. When Saville stands up to the giants, she’s heralded as the city’s champion and promised to the princess. Though she was only trying to save Will’s life (the cutest little 8 year old you’ll ever meet), she suddenly finds herself in the middle of an impending war. While the king and his court cower and search for escapes, she and Galen, the king’s cousin, do everything they can to protect the city. I easily got completely caught up in this story and found myself enjoying it so much: particularly the conversations with the giants – who were quite different than expected – and, obviously, the budding romance that I had my eye on from the start.
Now. That romance. It’s light, because most of the book is filled with Saville kicking ass and being awesome, but it’s there nonetheless and this ship is beautiful. It’s slow, slow burn perfection: starting with suspicion and mild dislike, building through respect and understanding, until you find yourself tossing about in bed thinking, “DEAR GOD PLEASE JUST KISS ALREADY.” Saville and Galen are just so great for each other – they really support and make each other stronger. And Galen… he’s a dreamboat. I will always have feels for noble, brave, and chivalrous types like him.
So far the book might sound pretty light and fluffy (and there were moments where it felt like it was on the younger side of YA), but trust me when I tell you that the story got real intense at certain moments. There were clear enemies at court, multiple casualties during the siege on Reggen, and the climax had some tragic consequences. McGuire knows how to build suspense, particularly at one moment when Saville muses that there probably won’t be a happy ending, that the romance probably won’t work out, and they probably won’t all come back alive. Well, obviously at that point I had to keep reading until I was done. Basically: this was an extremely engrossing adventure. It was pretty much everything I want from a fairy tale retelling.