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