This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
By: Victoria (V.E.) Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: July 5th, 2016
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.
I’ve been hearing about Victoria Schwab for years, as part of general YA World gossip, but I’d never chanced upon one of her books until this summer. (Well, ‘chanced’–more like ‘competitively placed repeated holds until I managed to snatch one of her books from the public library’). Considering my well-established love of crime novels, and a special penchant for fantasy, I’m astonished that I’d never read anything by her before. But, now that I have, I’m surprised it took me so long.
It took me a little while to really figure out what was going on with the story–the first image of Kate burning a chapel, while shocking, didn’t really let me know what to expect from the story. But as I got more and more into it, I was intrigued despite myself. The fact that August and Kate were so immediately and starkly set against each other intrigued me, although it seemed inevitable that they wouldn’t be set against each other for the entirety of the book.
What surprised me was, despite the *wink, wink, nudge nudge* potential of that last sentence, there was no established love story. It was unusual, but I really liked it. Even without consideration of practical matters (it’s basically a cross-species bond…or possibly necrophilia, considering how the Monsters are formed), it was so much more interesting to just have all that potential, without any effort to fulfill it. And besides, I liked that the bond between August and Kate went a good bit beyond just plain friendship, without having to verge into romance. It was clear that they cared for each other deeply.
I also liked how much they were opposites, in ways that mirrored each other. Kate is a human trying to be monstrous, August is a monster desperate to be human. August is hidden away inside his parents house, Kate is exiled from the city she calls home. There were so many ways that you could point to, where their characters were opposites, and it fascinated me. I wasn’t always sold by the plot, but even at the points when I thought the plot was meh, I kept reading because of the interactions between Kate and August.
I liked the plot–the fancy private school, sudden chaos, Kate and August’s scramble to keep out of harm’s way and figure out what’s going on. It was all very exciting, but I honestly felt somewhat removed from the action generally–or at least, not as invested as I thought I should be. It was hard to be, since I didn’t really know what was going on for a good part of the book (although what guesses I did have turned out to be absolutely correct, which also dampened some of the tension). But even when the action didn’t compel, I found myself very interested in the setting, the weird utopian dystopia plus monsters that was Verity. I want very much to wade in deeper to that world.
Although This Savage Song ended on an ambiguous note, sequel-wise, there is a sequel, and it sounds like August and Kate are on a crash course for each other once again…I’ll let you know the INSTANT I get my hands on it, and get to read more about their fascinating dichotomy.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.