Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity #2)
By: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: June 13th, 2017
THE WORLD IS BREAKING. AND SO ARE THEY.
KATE HARKER isn’t afraid of monsters. She hunts them. And she’s good at it.
AUGUST FLYNN once yearned to be human. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.
THE WAR HAS BEGUN.
THE MONSTERS ARE WINNING.
Kate will have to return to Verity. August will have to let her back in. And a new monster is waiting—one that feeds on chaos and brings out its victims’ inner demons.
Which will be harder to conquer: the monsters they face, or the monsters within?
I was pretty convinced that I’d won the hold lottery at my local public library a few weeks ago–after being on various hold lists for MONTHS, I came home with FIVE books that I’d been desperately wanting to read. Our Dark Duet was one of them–the dark, tense sequel to This Savage Song.
It picks up six months after Kate and August part ways–August has risen up to assume his place within the monster-hunting troops of Verity, while Kate has been sneaking around Prosperity, taking out the monsters that no one is willing to acknowledge are real. But when a new dark monster rises up and heads for Verity, Kate decides to follow it, and risk running into her demons–both metaphorical and physical.
Again, what I loved about Our Dark Duet were the interactions between August and Kate. Although they were still somewhat opposites, they had changed in different ways–and they help bring each other back to their most truthful personalities. Kate takes August out of his stoic, duty-bound persona and reminds him of the monster who wanted so desperately to be human. August, in the meanwhile, stubbornly refuses to see Kate’s assumed monstrosity. There was, as in the last book, a strong connection between the two, but it’s shown early on that it’s the kind that can’t ever be acted on–Kate’s murder-stained soul and August’s peculiar talents make that impossible. But that what-if is in every action either one takes in relation to the other, and it’s delightfully bittersweet.
But the tension and the world also felt more defined, and held my attention better. There was a lot going on–Sloan’s dark, vengeful hunger, Alice’s equally dark fixation on August and Kate, the tense standoff between them and the bureaucracy of the FTF. And then, into all of this, the chaos monster and Kate both barrel, disrupting the status quo in surprising ways. Kate challenges August to stop thinking in terms of monsters and men, in black and white. And the chaos monster, as the name suggests, sows further chaos in Verity, even as Sloan and Kate both work to deal with it.
There was a lot of careful strategy going on, which I enjoyed, the back-and-forth of generals fighting a war. But there was also a persistent push against a black-and-white point of view, not only from Kate, but in a more general sense. There was obviously a bad side (the one holding humans in ‘Fridges’ would be a prime example), but even Alice was drawn in shades of grey, her origins rising directly from Kate’s actions.
And this sense that monsters literally beget monsters–that Malachi arise not only from murder, but also from the thoughts, behaviors and fears of the murderer, is a fascinating one. Similarly, the chaos eater is quite the monstrosity–the way that it takes over and commands violence, and leaves its victims with red-and-white souls. The way it speaks to Kate in poetry is also fascinating, another reminder that not all monsters are monstrous (nor all of the monstrous ones monsters).
I won’t reassure you that the end was happy (to quote something I saw on Tumblr, ‘how could the end be happy?’), but it was bittersweet and poignant and fitting. The sense of righteousness of the FTF was challenged, damage dealt, but in a way that opened the door for renewal. The end was not ideal, but it was thoughtful, and well-executed. It felt just, yet questioned the notion of justice in a way that I liked. And, overall, it was a fitting end to a dark, violent, and chaotic series, one that didn’t leave me happy, but satisfied.
Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.