Book Review: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

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There’s no such thing as safe.

Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.

August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.

Their city is divided.

Their city is crumbling.

Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.

But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?

Violence breeds violence.

I really enjoyed This Savage Song. While the premise of monsters and humans isn’t a new one, Schwab made the story fresh and exciting with her monstrous characters and their endearing personalities. August, a monster known as a Sunai, wishes he could revoke his nature in favour of humanity and fitting in. Kate, the daughter of the man who rules Verity City (or V-City) with an iron fist and an army of monsters, determined to prove to her father that she is not her mother. The two have opposite goals but embark on the same journey of self-discovery in a place where the shadows are literally what go bump in the night.

In this world monsters and people… cohabit. I don’t want to say co-exist because coexisting implies a peaceful living situation. The citizens of V-City live in fear of the monsters − the Corsai and Malchai − that lurk in the shadows. Residents of North City are able to buy a degree of protection and a sense of safety due to Harker’s grip on monsters but a lot of the time it seems all for naught. However, such a system is entirely lacking from the Flynns in South City. But while I may love this setting that Schwab created, I’m still a bit cloudy on the specifics of how these monsters come into being. Especially Malchai and Sunai, the third type of monster.

The plot of this book has many layers. On a micro scale there is the personal journeys of both August and Kate, and on a more macro scale is the state of V-City itself. The prosperous North City, run by Callum Harker and his army of monsters, and the South City ruins, home to the Flynns and their Sunai children: Ilsa, Leo, and August. Given the setting, the story takes place in a state of perpetual danger. From the monsters themselves and the question of when the tension between Harker and Flynn will break out in war once again. Though the plot did peak pretty early and some events toward the end were a bit predictable, I completely appreciated the entire stage of events for their collective impact on the protagonists as characters.

Character-wise I definitely enjoyed reading August’s chapters more than Kate’s − especially at the start. But as the book went on, Kate became slightly less destructive and I was actually able to feel for her at the end. She wasn’t a bad character, I’ve just seen her − or who she was at the beginning − in so many other books. Schwab did try to make her stand apart from the others by adding an element of disability to her in that she was partially hearing impaired and had facial scars. But her deafness didn’t affect her ability to function in dangerous situations that much and I wish it had played in to the story a bit more.

Once again, Schwab has created a world in which I’m fascinated with. I’m not as engrossed as I am in the world of The Archived, nor am I attached to the characters like I am with those in A Darker Shade of Magic. But all things considered, This Savage Song is a solid story and I’m beyond intrigued to see where it goes in the sequel, Our Dark Duet.

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