Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity #1
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
Victoria Schwab does it yet again. In the last six months I’ve read three of her other books and I’ve loved them all.
The hype for This Savage Song couldn’t have been higher. I’ve been waiting months, not to mention that I had already heard amazing things about it from the people that got ARCs. I never pre-order books but, with how much I loved A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, and Vicious, I just had to do it. And this one… well my notes for this review were filled with (happy) stacked exclamation points!!! Here’s why…
I was completely enthralled with this book from start to finish. It was one of those books were I stopped myself because I wanted it to last more. I wanted to savour it. The worldbuilding, the characters, the writing, it all came together for me.
I’ll start with the worldbuilding. I’m amazed at how thoroughly Schwab uses each of her settings. She tell stories that can only happen in their respective, unique universes. What I mean by this is that as she uses the worlds to their full potential. I always feel that her characters come from the setting and not the other way around. This Savage Song is no exception. Verity just screams through the pages. It felt so unique and developed despite the fact that there weren’t that many characters. Every place felt essential to the story in some way or another.
Monsters! Honestly, it sounded like an amazing premise from the get-go. Our actions are the monsters. We are the monsters. It felt so fitting that Kate and August wanted to become what they weren’t. What I’m trying to say is that the main theme of this story was everything I could ask for. This is more on the philosophical side of YA. And it’s done so well. There were no easy answers. No pretty bow at the end.
And the characters. I fell so quickly for them.
We have Kate who is both tough and vulnerable. Wounded and resilient. Funny and scary. At no point in the book is she looked down upon or questioned for being a girl. She makes an unforgettable impression from the prelude. And sweet August. He’s the kind of character who you just want to hug and hope he doesn’t ever have to suffer again. Honestly my favourite parts of the book have to do with him questioning who, or rather, what he is. Their dynamic was everything I wanted it to be. Intense as hell. Not having it turned into a romance was definitely the best choice, in my opinion. It just felt so organic.
Some side characters could’ve used a bit more depth, but practically all where memorable and vivid.
And the writing, oh the writing. There were moment were I just had to stop and reread a line over and over because of how beautiful it was. Teach me how to do words, book. The style is very heavy in metaphors and imagery, that are never clumsy or forced. They serve a purpose each time, even when you stop noticing them, they make the book work so well. Line by line, Schwab manages to break your heart. Here is one of my non-spoilery favorites:
It was a cycle of whimpers and bangs, gruesome beginnings and bloody ends.
Also beyond the line level, some of the parts that deal with anxiety just took my breath away with how vivid they felt.
The ending felt so fitting for the characters. Not in a spelled-out way, but in a way in which it completed their arcs. Even though this is the only first part in a duology, it’s able to stand on its own very well. The point where it ends feels pretty natural for the both characters and story while there’s clearly a story to continue. Complete but not definitive. I loved it.
The only things keeping me from giving this a five star rating are that the hype was pretty high and that I had some problems with the plot. I wasn’t much of a fan of the parts set at Colton and some parts were kind of reminiscent of A Darker Shade of Magic (two people, a boy and a girl, being chased around the different sections of city/parallel universe). It’s clearly its own thing, but those part, although brief, did bother me.
I just want to get my hands on Our Dark Duet already!