Gabriel and the Swallows (Interview & Review!)

Gabriel and the Swallows (Interview & Review!)
Hi there!

Title: Gabriel and the Swallows (The Volatile Duology #1)

Author: Esther Dalseno
Publisher: Oftomes
Published Date: 11th March 2016
Rating: 3 Stars
*Thanks to the publisher for the review copy*
 Synopsis: 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.

What was the hardest thing when it came to writing
Gabriel and the Swallows?
I wrote the first three
chapters of Gabriel years before the rest of the novel.
 The hardest part was taking those first three chapters and transforming
them – they were initially based in a town in France and when I stumbled across
Orvieto in my travels, I knew Gabriel had to be based there!
 Another thing which is unique to Gabriel is that it
began with no plot.  I wanted the book to be character-based so as the
characters grew, their actions caused the plot to develop.  Gabriel was
very experimental for me, as I had no idea where anyone was going to end up,
and I am glad readers seem to think that gamble paid off.
What was the easiest thing for you while writing?
I can write enormous amounts
in one sitting – if I am given the time!  I can literally churn out a
100,000 word novel in the space of 6 weeks – but those 100,000 words are not
particularly good.  In fact, they are frightful!

What’s one of your weirdest writing habits?
I need absolute silence to
concentrate.  I am sadly not one of those writers who can write in public
– a cafe or a town square or even a library.  I need to be in the same
boring old place, in the same boring old room with nothing to look at on the
walls and no window to distract me.  I find that music and imagery affect
and influence the tone of my narrative, and I prefer to write out of infinite
nothingness and let the characters speak through me without external
What are a few top tips you can give to wanna be writers?
Never give up and write what
you want – not what you think will sell.  
If there was one thing you could do differently about
your writing process, what would it be?
I wish I had no more time
these days.  Since I became a mother, finding time to write is a very
difficult task.  The minute I organise my notes and edit what I’ve
previously written, my daughter wakes from her nap!  By the end of the
day, when I have the time to write, I am often so exhausted I can barely chew
my dinner.  This cycle continues, so this summer, I am hoping to lock
myself away at my in-laws lake house in Canada to work exclusively on the
sequel to Gabriel, Orlando and the Spirits.

If you could only write in one genre for the rest of your
life, which would it be?
This will sound very odd
coming from a writer with two YA fantasy books out there – but literary
fiction!  I never set out intending to write YA – my first novel Drown was
written for adults, but as it was a fairy tale retelling, my agent at the time
marketed it to publishers as YA.  The “voice” (and also, the voice of Gabriel)
isn’t your typical YA voice, but I love writing young characters and about
their often haphazard and graceless coming of age!  After The
Volatile Duology
, I will be focussing on writing adult books – but that’s
not to say I wouldn’t return to YA as I love the genre so much! 

Review: Gabriel and the Swallows is a fantasy
novel which intrigued me as soon as I heard the premise. The idea of a girl
with wings in a world where that doesn’t happen caught my eye instantly. I’ve
also really been in the mood for fantasy lately, so of course I wanted to read
this one. And it only took me three hours to finish as I sat down to read this
one and finished it pretty quickly. I was engrossed in knowing how it was going
to end.
I was a bit thrown at the beginning because this book
starts off with Gabriel as a child. He remains that age for the entirety of the
first part of the novel. I quickly realised this was going to follow the
classic bildungsroman style – where the main character starts as a child and
matures through the novel and hopefully, at the end, are a bit wiser than they
were at the beginning of the novel. Bildungsroman novels have been catching my
eye lately as I am studying one for a yearlong project at school – so it drew
me in all the more.
The cover to this novel is amazing and suits it
perfectly. It captures the idea of swallows which comes back a lot in this
novel, and the colours remind me of dreams. The dream world is involved quite a
lot in this novel and the decision between two realities as well. I found that
the dream world baffled me a little, as did the spirit world. We did get a bit
of insight into them and their meaning but I get the impression that book two
is going to involve that aspect a whole lot more and I am looking forward to
As well as this, the novel is set in beautiful Italy. We
get to see the town life, but the main character does travel to Rome at one point,
during the time period where the old fashioned is shifting a little into modern
technology. I loved the setting like crazy. The descriptions were beautiful and
made me wish I had the money to jet off to Italy right about now.
This book was certainly unique. At times I felt it a
little strange, like I couldn’t quite grasp the deeper meaning that was
supposed to be there… but then at other times I really liked the uniqueness of
it, and how it was something I have never tried before. If you do try this
novel, you’ll be going into something fresh which you haven’t experienced
I only had two issues with this book. One being that at
times I felt it was a little plotless? Usually I wouldn’t mind, because I’m
such a character driven reader. But for this novel, it hindered me a little and
I wondered where the story was going in different parts. So I would classify
this one as more of a character driven novel. And the second thing would be
that I didn’t like Gabriel – the main character – all of the time. Sometimes I
found him to be a little bit selfish and unnecessarily cruel. You could argue
that he is a victim to the way he has been treated, or that not everyone is
perfect. But at times it did get to me.
However, the ending of the novel was satisfying. When I
turned the last page I was left smiling and in the end, I do think Gabriel
learned a lot from when he started out at the beginning of the novel. I’m
looking forward to trying book two, especially as the author is currently in
Turkey and is busy researching for the second novel!
Links: Goodreads and Amazon!
Olivia’s Question: Have you ever been bird watching or
had an interest in birds?

Olivia-Savannah x

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