Title: This Savage Song
Author: Victoria Schwab
Release Date: July 5
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Greenwillow Books on Edelweiss (A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.)
Check this book out on Goodreads.
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. (Source: Goodreads)
Kate and August have grown up on opposite sides of the same war. Kate is from the North of V-City, her father runs the city with an iron fist, and with the help of the monsters born of evil acts. In the south is August’s family, they seek peace and the elimination of those monsters that terrorize the people. Kate wants to prove herself, and August – a monster himself – wants to be human. When the pair are attacked at their school they must come together to protect the city and the truce their families are letting crumble around them.
Victoria Schwab is one of my absolute favourite writers, but I’d never actually read any of her teen fiction thus far. I had some reservations going into this book because I was worried it wouldn’t be as good as her adult fantasy books, boy was that stupid of me! Schwab creates a detailed world in this book, one with a rich history for both its characters and it’s structure. The rules of society, of creation for the monsters, and of character relationships are all so intricately detailed. I was so happy. Much like Schwab’s other work it is a little slow to get going, but once it goes it’s amazing.
I really liked both Kate and August as characters, which isn’t to say they’re necessarily likeable characters, because Kate frequently isn’t, but they’re very well rounded characters, and the more Kate’s background is chiselled out before you the more you come to like her. I thought the other characters were also well written, even with very few scenes or moments of dialogue. August’s sister, Ilsa, is perhaps the most fascinating character in the book and I would absolutely love see more of her in coming novels.
The whole world of the novel is really well written. The monsters started off mysterious and vague, but then they grow into this terrifyingly real set of horrible things. There are three types of monsters, one essentially shadows, one essentially vampires, and the other – August and his siblings – is a little harder to explain. The Sunai, August, Ilsa, and Leo, play music that devours sinner’s souls. These three classes of monsters are well defined from their source to the ways in which you can kill them to even the horrifying way they move and behave. The Sunai remain mysterious for much of the book, but the payoff at the end is well worth the wait.
I think there was a good amount of action, all of which was well written, and a fair bit of gore that maybe not all teenagers will be comfortable with, because of that I might classify this as maybe 15/16+ rather than just 13+. I found myself reminded of things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Umbrella Academy while reading this, which is excellent because those are both things I love.
I would definitely recommend this book, especially to fans of the above TV and comic book series. I think this is meant to be a series, and Schwab has certainly left it open for more action which I would love to see.