Break Out Your Tiaras: A Review of The Gala by Leigh Walker
The Gala by Leigh Walker arrived much faster than I anticipated and now it is time to continue our adventure into the Vampire Royals series.
When we last left off, our heroine Gwyn was desperately in love with the Dark Prince but she was also convinced that she wasn’t fully in love with him due to his vampire side. It was a lot of back and forth between liking and not liking Prince Dallas. There wasn’t much going on past this. Human rebels were supposedly an issue, they made about two appearances in The Pageant, but they aren’t presented as much of an issue thus far in this series.
The Gala is much of the same unfortunately. Gwyn will spend time with Dallas, much more time than any of the other girls too I may add, and she’ll come to the conclusion that she’s very much in love with him. Then he’ll spend time with another girl due to the competition and Gwyn will become jealous to the point of hating him. The next time our main couple see each other, Gwyn will blow up on Dallas. He’ll state that he needs to spend time with the other young women because of the contest, that he doesn’t care for any of them the way he does for her, and the pair will make up. This cycle will then continue for 200 pages until the book ends.
There are very few moments that are different; there are only two in The Gala that stick out. Obviously a spoiler alert is in order for this post.
Early on in The Gala, Dallas and Gwyn travel to Gwyn’s home in Settlement 4 after the palace receives news that her younger sister is extremely ill. The pair break every palace protocol to go visit the little girl.
Thus far, this is the only moment of “show don’t tell” in the entire series.
This event happens very abruptly, and Dallas is the one to initiate the journey. He knows how important family is to Gwyn, and therefore her family is important to him. Once there, his time is spent not only getting to know her family and making sure that they’ll have food, warmth, and medicine going forward, but he does the same for the rest of Settlement 4’s population as well. Dallas is showing Gwyn that those around him, both those that he is close to and those under his rule, will be cared for.
Gwyn has called Dallas a monster in the past. She has seen what damage he is capable of as a vampire. But in this instance, she has fully realized that he is far more capable of doing good and saving others than he is inflicting harm. She’s also convinced that he does care for her once and for all even though she’s still certain to feel jealous in the future. He easily could have just informed Gwyn about her sister’s illness, but instead he takes her back home to check on her sister. That’s not something someone who doesn’t care for another would do.
So far, these scenes are the highlight for the series. It’s the one time where readers can actually tell Dallas and Gwyn have an actual relationship and do truly care for one another.
That being said, the quality of this series is not that high.
I wouldn’t consider anything else a highlight in The Gala. Gwyn still hasn’t had any character development by the end of the second book; at this point I doubt she’ll ever have any. Dallas and Eve don’t get any character development either. As for any other supporting character, they’re all stock characters.
Only three other women, outside of Gwyn and Eve, who were chosen to participate in the Pageant actually get named by Walker. Let me just state that again, only five out of 40 women are named. Walker clearly doesn’t care about world building or side characters in this series. And like I said, these three women are all stock characters.
There is Tamara, the bombshell/vixen; she’s also our pseudo villain for the Pageant. Then there is Shaye who is basically a Cinderella in the making. And finally, there is Blake whose only personality trait is skinny girl who likes food. Truly, the Pageant and the young women who are involved with it are of no importance to this book series.
I wish there was anything more to say on these women. I wish I could talk about them more. Unfortunately, they are nothing more than set dressing.
There is no doubt that Gwyn is going to marry Dallas. Walker knows that, readers know that; so the other women in the competition are completely irrelevant.
The only supporting character that has any sort of relevance to the plot in The Gala is Gwyn’s older brother Balkyn. Balkyn, as I predicted in the last Vampire Royals post, does turn up at the palace. I was wrong in my prediction that he’d be a vampire, but he becomes a rebel prisoner locked in the dungeons.
I’m pretty certain that I missed the sentence in The Pageant where it was indeed revealed Balkyn was a rebel. I don’t know how I missed that exactly. I think I may have been trying to form my own storyline in my head where he ended up being a vampire guard to the surprise of literally everyone.
Anyway, Balkyn is one of two characters to be introduced in The Gala, and he is the only supporting character who has any relevance to the plot.
Remember when I said that there were two scenes that actually add to the series in this book? Well, Balkyn’s introduction is that other scene. He found Gwyn in the rebel camp after other rebels in his group took her hostage on the palace grounds. In his mind, Gwyn is the answer to the rebels’ problems. She has intimate knowledge of the royal family and, in theory, she knows their weaknesses.
By being held hostage, Gwyn has the opportunity to actually show a different side of her character. She hasn’t proven that she’s an intelligent character by any means thus far, but at this point in time she has the opportunity to outwit the rebels. The rebels themselves aren’t the brightest bulbs, but they still pose a physical threat to Gwyn. She has to play along with their plans and trick them by giving false information on vampires.
Gwyn knows that she isn’t strong enough to take on one of the rebels, especially once Dallas is captured, let alone a massive group of them. She only has her wits when Dallas is trapped. She can only outmaneuver these men with her words until help can arrive to save them both.
This scene isn’t the greatest example of “show don’t tell”; like I said, Dallas’ example is much, much better. All this scene shows is Gwyn not wanting harm to befall someone else. She certainly cares for Dallas, but the scene can just be taken as Gwyn is a good person who doesn’t condone violence. Gwyn’s feelings haven’t truly been proven to me just yet.
Now, my dear reader, we are going to make a sharp left turn and discuss something else. I’ve talked a decent amount about the characters and what little there is of a story, but I haven’t discussed the writing this time around.
If you remember back to my review of The Pageant, I went in on the tragedy that is Walker’s grammar. I won’t bring up the downfalls of the writing this time around…much. I should say that there was some improvement in the dialogue, it was not as clunky this time around. But, my god, the pacing of The Gala is a total disaster.
Supposedly, The Gala is to take place over a four-week period. At the end of these four weeks, Dallas is to choose the final four women of the competition during a massive party. You could never tell that this book was supposed to happen over four weeks.
There is no way of knowing when the events in this book happen. Time is merely an illusion in this series. There are never any mention of what day or time it is in the book. Things just continue to happen on after another with little to no break inbetween. Seriously, this book can take place in either one week or upwards of two and a half. There is note that the full four weeks aren’t entirely seen. At least one week is skipped over at the end. At the end of the day, time is much like the supporting characters: non-important and non-existent.
Not only should there have been more time spent in the weeks leading up to this titular gala, more time should have been spent at the gala itself. Seriously, maybe two chapters are spent at this event and it’s supposedly one of the biggest things to happen during the Pageant. Drama should have happened at the event. Fights should have happened. Something should have happened!
Yet nothing did. No build up. No real mention of the event outside of a few passing comments. Nothing happened before or during this event. For a book being named The Gala, this gala wasn’t much to mention. And this goes back to the issue of pacing. The pacing is based on the cycle Gwyn and Dallas goes through consistently. By the end of this book, Dallas and Gwyn are at a high point. So why should there be any drama then? Everything’s coming up roses at this point. This would be the perfect time for something major to happen, but Walker doesn’t think so.
On top of needing better pacing, this book also needs some better exposition; specifically regarding the vampires. I don’t think I’ve ever said something needed better exposition. I’m pretty sure I’ve said there has been too much exposition in some review or some books went over the top and writers included major exposition dumps. That’s not this book’s issue.
There is no exposition in this book series. I still don’t have any grasp on any of the history of this world and I certainly don’t have any idea how vampires work in this series.
Some of them can walk in the sun without issues, some cannot. Some can speak in the minds of humans, some cannot. They all seem to have superhuman strength and can take down a whole army single handedly. Silver is the main weapon against vampires as it can weaken them to the point where someone else can drive a stake through their heart.
There is no rhyme or reason as to what vampires can and cannot do. It’s not clear what powers they possess. Can vampires turn into bats? I don’t know. Do they sleep in coffins? I have no idea. What are the laws regarding turning humans into vampires? Pretty sure there aren’t any. The royals are vampires though. Walker makes that much clear; she doesn’t make much more clear though.
I didn’t think I would say this, but The Gala was worse than The Pageant. I guess I’m a bit of an optimist when it comes to books. I had hoped that there would be some improvement in the series during the course of its sequel, but that didn’t happen. I think this one slowly went downhill the longer it went on.
Once again, I do want to leave a few predictions about what shall happen in the third and final part of Gwyn and Dallas’ story.
Seeing as Balkyn didn’t turn out to be a vampire, I have to guess Gwyn’s father will end up being a vampire. As it turns out, her father is gravely ill, and seeing as we don’t have any idea about the process of a human becoming a vampire, I think it’s likely that her father being a newly minted vampire shall be revealed. I also expect Gwyn to be turned into a vampire as well. I’m holding on to that one.
I imagine that some more issues with the rebels shall arise, but I don’t anticipate much more happening past this. Truthfully, I anticipate that once Gwyn and Dallas are engaged, the issues between the human and vampire races will basically vanish.
The race relations of this series could be the greatest part of this series but Walker barely scraps the surface when discussing the issues. As werewolves were hardly ever brought up in The Gala, my earlier guess of humans and vampires coming together to fight the werewolves is likely to be incorrect. Instead I imagine Walker will take the lazy way out and just claim any and all race issues between vampires and humans disappear upon the engagement.
All shall be revealed next Wednesday though. This time next week we’ll talk about book number three: The Finale. I’ll see y’all then!