This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

(Last Updated On: August 12, 2019)

This Savage Song brings you lush world-building, terrifying monsters that go bump in the night, and a city on the verge of war for control.

About the Book

Publisher: Greenwillow Books  |  Release Date: July 5, 2016  |  Pages: 469
Genre: YA, Fantasy  |  Format: Paperback  |  Source: Purchased

This Savage Song cover

#1 New York Times Bestseller * An Amazon Best Book of the Year

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from acclaimed author Victoria Schwaba 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.

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.

In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

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My Review

Narrative style: third person | Perspective(s): Dual (August, Kate)

✨ This is my Patreon TBR Control read for August 2019! Consider joining my Patreon for as little as $1 a month to have the ability to choose one of my monthly reads.

Victoria is such an amazing writer. She has an amazing imagination and crafts fantastic worlds, but her writing style just isn’t for me and I think it is time to accept it. I’ve read a number of her books and have had a similar experience with all but Vicious, so please take my review with a grain of salt. If I am being completely honest, this book likely would have sat on my owned TBR forever if my patrons hadn’t voted for me to read it.

“Plenty of humans are monstrous, and plenty of monsters know how to play human.”    – V.A. Vale

I love that the book has a Victor Vale quote at the beginning of it, because I definitely was thinking about the monstrous parallels between these two books while I was reading! It sets the tone so well, letting the reader know that humanity can be just as monstrous.

“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.”

The duology is set in Verity City, which is divided in two by two opposing would-be rulers: Callum Harker and Henry Flynn. Typical human power struggle, both vying for control of Verity City, thinking that they have the solution to the monster problem. Because you see, in this alternate future the evil acts of man not only mark the soul as a sinner but also creates a living, breathing monster which wrecks havoc. Harker’s solution is for the citizens to pay him for protection from the monsters that feed at night; Flynn’s to fight the monsters. Six years ago they agreed to a truce, effectively splitting Verity City in two to stop the in-fighting.

“Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or ideals.”

As with Schwab’s other work, the world-building is intricate and a little heavy on telling rather than showing in the exposition. Her words flow beautifully on the page, but for some reason her writing style just doesn’t resonate with me as a reader. I found the pacing uneven as there is a lot of exposition in the first half of the book, but once the action began I was hooked! This is common for me experience for me with Schwab’s work, so if you don’t typically have this issue you’ll likely love the book.

“Because the truth wasn’t the same thing as a fact.”

The book is told in the alternating perspectives of Kate Harker and August Flynn, the heirs of divided Verity City. I most connected with August’s character because I resonate most with characters who struggle against their nature, and I think that Schwab did an excellent job endearing the reader to him. Unfortunately, because the book is told in third person, the two perspectives didn’t have distinct voices to them and there were times of needless repetition. But I came to really dig the duo as the story progressed.

“At night, they hunted monsters, but during the day, they tried to stop new ones from being made. Crime. That was the cause.”

I love the premise of the book, it is such an interesting take on the concept of evil. Humanity is just as at fault for the birthing of the Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai, but there are also bad people who take advantage of others. I like that you don’t really know who you can trust because being either human or monster doesn’t necessarily mean much because things aren’t so black and white. Both Kate and August have choices to make, and I am interested to see how it ends.

Overall, I wound up enjoying This Savage Song quite a bit once the plot got moving around halfway through. Readers who enjoy world-building and lots of exposition will enjoy this book, and while I found the pacing to be uneven the book didn’t ever feel like an info-dump.

CONTENT WARNINGS: gore, loss of a parent, violence

Thank you so much to my Patrons for supporting me and my content! I probably never would have read this book if it weren’t for you, so thank you and I hope this review is what you were hoping for!

Michelle  |  Sam  |  Haley  |  Destiny  |  Bex

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!


  1. Xandra @ Starry Sky Books

    August 15, 2019 at 8:53 AM

    I started listening to this audiobook a few months ago, but it took me a while to get into and I decided to put it down. However, I recently bought the paperback and now I’m looking forward to trying it again! Thanks for this review, Kal! 🙂

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:44 PM

      The book itself took awhile to get into, which I find to be the case for me when I read Victoria’s books, but when it does finally pick up it is rather engaging! I hope the different format works for you when you pick it back up, Xandra!

  2. Scrill

    August 15, 2019 at 9:13 AM

    I’m glad by the end you enjoyed this book. This is actually the book that turned me onto Schwab, the second book destroyed me so hard I couldn’t write my review for a week (this was before I fell down the RTC hole). I am curious to see what you think by the end of it all.

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:47 PM

      Oooh, I am no intrigued and want to read the second book. I love books that destroy, haha.

  3. Siobhan @ Novelties

    August 15, 2019 at 9:14 AM

    I loved reading Savage Song, but Our Dark Duet broke my damn heart.

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:48 PM

      … you are the second person to say this. And now I want to read the second book when I was pretty much indifferent before!

  4. TheCaffeinatedReader

    August 15, 2019 at 9:58 AM

    I am still on a power trip over this, especially reading your review lol, truth be told I’m soooo relieved you ended up enjoying it, I was gonna feel so guilty otherwise, I’m definitely going to read this one now

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:49 PM

      I am really glad you got such a kick out of controlling my reading a bit! Honestly, I probably never would have gotten around to reading this one if it weren’t for you lot because I am so meh on Schwab’s books. So thanks.

  5. Marta

    August 16, 2019 at 11:30 AM

    I’m sorry to hear this wasn’t for you! I’ve really enjoyed this duology and I’ve been interested in checking out more books by the author!

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:52 PM

      Thank you! I wound up liking the book fine enough by the end but it was still an average read for me. If you like the duology though, you will love her other work!

  6. thebookprescription

    August 16, 2019 at 1:40 PM

    Book 2 is much better 😀

    1. Kal

      August 19, 2019 at 5:56 PM

      So I’ve heard! It is on my TBR now…

  7. dbsguidetothegalaxy

    August 21, 2019 at 3:05 AM

    Basically ALL of her books are on my tbr after reading City of Ghosts (which was great), but I’ll definitely be looking at her recommendation tweet to see what I should read next by her.
    I like the urban fantasy aspect and you mention a lot of worldbuilding and I’m always here for that.

    1. Kal

      August 24, 2019 at 3:42 PM

      Ahhh I am so glad that you enjoyed City of Ghosts! I haven’t read that one mainly because I was denied an earc and since I’ve been so meh on everything I’ve read barring Vicious, I didn’t want to risk buying it. This was a cool story, and if you dig urban fantasy you will enjoy it I am sure!

      1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

        August 24, 2019 at 3:46 PM

        It’s so good!! I loved all the ghosts and everything.
        Urban fantasy is my favourite genre 😀

        1. Kal

          August 27, 2019 at 1:03 AM

          I really enjoy urban fantasy but haven’t read widely in the genre yet. Throw some recs at me if you have them!

          1. dbsguidetothegalaxy

            August 27, 2019 at 1:52 AM

            ooh, that’s a great idea for a post!! And also me realising that I need to add an urban fantasy shelf on goodreads 😄 I love urban fantasy so much!

  8. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    August 23, 2019 at 6:58 PM

    Great review, Kaleena! Hmm, I’ve had this one on my tbr for ages as well, and I just recently snagged a copy of it from a used bookstore. I like how these characters and the world building sound, but it is a shame to hear about the pacing – especially considering how much I adore V.E. Schwab. Thanks for letting me know about this uneven pacing, so that way I’ll be aware of it when I eventually tackle this book! <3

    1. Kal

      August 27, 2019 at 12:32 AM

      Thank you so much, Kelly! If you adore V.E. Schwab you will likely love this one – I have struggled with pacing and writing style for every single book of hers that I’ve written, so I am fairly confident that it is a me thinkg.

  9. Erin Eliza

    September 8, 2019 at 9:49 AM

    I haven’t read anything by her but I’ve hear similar things that her style of writing isn’t for everyone and I feel like I’ll probably be one of them

    1. Kal

      September 11, 2019 at 11:42 AM

      I seem to be in the minority among my friends (and it feels like the book community at large lmao). I loved Vicious though, so mabe start with that one? I didn’t have ANY issues with that book.

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