Also by this author: A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1), A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2)
Series: Monsters of Verity, #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction
Also in this series: Our Dark Duet
Victoria Schwab’s Shades of Magic series was such a glorious read that I was actually a little hesitant to move on to This Savage Song. As good as its synopsis sounded, I was just convinced that nothing could top the adventures of Kell, Rhys, and Lila and the 4 Londons. Well, my concerns were completely misplaced because while it may not have topped Shades of Magic, This Savage Song is equally brilliant in its own way and easily one of the most compelling books I’ve read this year.
This Savage Song is an urban fantasy set in the war-torn city of Verity. Not only is the city practically destroyed by war, but the violence that has taken place has actually led to the creation of actual monsters who threaten to overrun what is left of the city. A treaty has divided Verity into two halves, one run by the ruthless Callum Harker, a crime boss who controls the majority of the monsters. Being the “nice” guy that he is, Harker offers his services to protect the citizens on his side of the city from the monsters – for a fee. Cross him or don’t pay your protection fee, and you’re the monsters’ next meal. The other side of the city is run by Henry Flynn, a much more fair-minded individual who just wants to honor the terms of the treaty, keep the peace, and most especially, keep the monsters at bay so that his people are safe.
The story doesn’t actually focus on these two men, however, but rather on their children. Kate Harker and August Flynn, and what happens when two children of powerful men become desperate to prove themselves to their fathers. But if you’re familiar with Schwab’s stories, you can guess that this is not your typical coming of age story. Why? Because August Flynn is a monster…literally. Yes, Henry Flynn has monsters of his own, a rare breed that Kate’s father would love to get his hands on. When August is finally given the opportunity to prove himself useful – by posing as a student at Kate’s school in case the Flynn resistance needs to grab her to use as leverage against her father, he actually ends up befriending Kate. He has to be careful though because if Kate finds out what he really is, what better way for her to prove herself to dear old dad than by capturing and bringing home one of Flynn’s rare monsters?
If you’re not familiar with Schwab’s writing, all I can say is be prepared for a ride that is dark, intense, creepy, and thrilling!
I could go on for days about what I loved in this book, but here are some highlights to give you an idea of how amazing this book is.
The Monsters! I never thought I would hear myself gushing about a collection of monsters, but Schwab does a brilliant job of coming up with some of the most unique monsters I’ve ever encountered, and the idea that these monsters are “born” from violent acts committed by humans is just pure genius. Schwab gives us the flesh-eating Corsai, who appear mainly as shadowy figures; the Malchai, who look like corpses and drink blood, and then finally the rarest form of monster, the Sunai. The Sunai can actually pass for humans and they are the soul stealers. The Sunai are, by far, the most fascinating of the three types, primarily because whereas Corsai and Malchai will attack anyone at any time, the Sunai seek justice and will only attack those who have committed heinous crimes. They’re even more fascinating in terms of how they actually “attack” – each of the three Sunai uses music as their weapon. They play music and draw the human’s soul to the surface and then feed on it. It’s beautiful and awful all at the same time.
Complex Characters. Kate Harker and August Flynn are the definition of complex characters. Kate is a young woman determined to prove herself to her father by behaving like a monster, while August Flynn actually is a Sunai monster who wants nothing more than to be human. August constantly fights against the Sunai instinct to feed on souls and just wants to prove himself to his “father” by being an active participant in the resistance. In this sense, This Savage Song is as much a coming of age story as it is a dystopian story. Both Kate and August have to make some difficult decisions as they decide what kind of people (or monsters) they want to be.
Action-Packed. This Savage Song is set in the middle of a city that is already war torn and where the monsters are getting restless. There are monster attacks, assassination attempts, resistance missions, and so much more. If you like action, this is your book.
The Overriding Theme. The central idea that runs through This Savage Song – that human beings can be monsters may not be a unique one, but the way Schwab presents it – contrasting the behaviors of humans with actual monsters — totally is. It’s also a theme that seems very relevant these days with everything that is going on in the world. There’s just so much hate and division out there.
I thought the book was fantastic and had no issues with it at all.
While it is a very different kind of read from what we saw in the Shades of Magic, This Savage Song is still a powerful read. If you’re into dark, gritty narratives that make you think about human nature and the tough choices we all have to make in difficult times, This Savage Song is a great choice.
RATING: 5 STARS
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.