Synopsis: 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.
Review: I would like to give you a “Spoilers Ahead” warning as you continue to read my review of the This Savage Song, the first book in the Monsters of Verity series.
This book is written in the third person from Kate and August’s (who are the protagonists) points of view.
The book is set in the fictional city called Verity in a dystopian USA.
So, this post-apocalyptic duology takes place after an extended period of national unrest. Twelve years before the start of the story, a change in nature somehow caused violence to start taking the shape of tangible things. Am I making any sense? To clarify, the “monsters” that you will find in This Savage Song were created from all sorts of violence. There are three kinds of monsters mentioned in the book:
- Corsai, who came from violent, but nonlethal acts, and they fed on flesh and bone
- Malchai came from murders and fed on blood
- Sunai came from mass killings and fed on life-forces of sinners, the auras of their souls.
“Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.”
“Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.”
There are only three Sunai in existence-August and his brother Leo and sister Ilsa-who live with Henry Flynn, head of the southern portion of V-city(capital of Verity). Henry Flynn is a human is trying to maintain the truce that was established to keep peace in Verity.
The Northern side is run by Callum Harker, an autocrat.H e is evil, almost like the monsters he has at his disposal. However, his daughter Kate thought his kind of evil was precisely what the city needed.
“Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or ideals. The facts were simple. The South was chaos. The North was order. It was an order bought and paid for with blood and fear, but order all the same.”
Kate wants to be more monster, a befitting Harker, to gain her father’s existence. August wants to be more human, just like his adopted father because he is unlike the other monsters, he cares.
Meanwhile, Kate and August end up in the same high school. August’s reason to go to the high school is to spy on Kate, but things go awry one day when Kate begins to suspect August’s humanity. When Kate cooks up a plan to kidnap August and deliver him to her father to gain his acceptance, things go really bad for both of them. August helps Kate from being a monster’s snack, and together they escape to the Waste, the dangerous no man’s land outside of the city limits. They go to Kate’s old house, but they are tracked down.
Afterward, while August and Kate are captured, August is tortured by a Malachai Sloan(who is also a slave of Kate’s father), who wants him to go “dark.”
Hold up! “go dark”? What does it mean?
It(“going dark”) happened to August twice before Kate met him. Now he has stopped eating because he doesn’t want to feel like a monster. But he also is afraid that eventually he will lose control from hunger and go dark.
“They lose the ability to tell the difference between good and bad, monster and human. They just kill. They kill everyone.”
In the penultimate scene of the book, Leo manages to kill Sloan the Malachai, but in spite of the brotherly love that should clearly show, August learns that Leo hatched a plan with Sloan (and his other goonies) to reign supreme. Leo doesn’t want to live in a world of humans and will kill anyone who gets in his way.
After all of his starving and torture, August does go dark, and in the way changes all of their lives.
Verdict: V.E. Schwab writes beautifully. She is a skillful weaver of tales, and I am glad I got to read this book. Looking at their characters, Kate and August are far from perfect, but their struggles are what reels you in. I look forward to reading and reviewing the sequel: Our Dark Duet.
“Whatever he was made of — stardust or ash or life or death — would be gone.
Not with a bang, but with a whimper.
In with gunfire and out with smoke.
And August wasn’t ready to die.
Even if surviving wasn’t simple, or easy, or fair.
Even if he could never be human.
He wanted the chance to matter.
He wanted to live.”
I would give this book 3½ out of 5 stars.
About Author: Victoria is the product of a British mother, a Beverly Hills father, and a southern upbringing. Because of this, she has been known to say “tom-ah-toes,” “like,” and “Y’all.”
She also tells stories.
She loves fairy tales, and folklore, and stories that make her wonder if the world is really as it seems.
Note: I bought the paperback edition, and I want to give credit to some awesome people:
1.Vitezslav Valka/Shutterstock and Matyas Rehak/Shutterstock (Cover photography)
2.Jenna Stempel(Cover design and hand lettering)
**Publisher: Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2016
Below are the links if you want to buy the book(and some recommendations) on Amazon.