Title: This Savage Song
Author: V.E. Schwab
Series: Monsters of Verity, #1
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
Release Date: June 7th 2016
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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Kate Harker is safe outside of Verity, safe from the monsters and the fear, but she doesn’t want that. She wants to go home, to prove herself to her father, and so she fights tooth and nail to get expelled from every boarding school she’s ever been admitted to. Her latest effort, burning down a small church, proved successful and before the day is over she is heading back to Verity, back into the section of the city her father controls and back among the monsters.
For Kate she finally has what she wants. She is going home and she is determined to prove to her father that she deserves to be a part of his family, that she can be as brutal and decisive as he is. However Kate is on her last chance, if she is expelled from one more school her father will ship her far away from Verity and she’ll never return.
Meanwhile on the other side of Verity, the side run by Henry Flynn, August too fights for his chance to prove himself. He is trapped in his home, only leaving in the dead of night to feed when he needs to, but he wants to help in the efforts to maintain the truce and help the men who work for his father. Finally he gets his chance. With Kate coming back to Verity and going to school within the City August gets to go as well, to keep an eye on Kate and see if she can be used against her father if the truce ever looks close to breaking.
As one of the only three Sunai in existence August is able to blend in with the humans at the school, but there are things he can’t hide, and as he starts reaching out to Kate he risks exposing not only himself but his brother and sister on the other side of Verity. However when August is trapped inside the school and Kate is attacked they realise they were part of a set up; that the Sunai, and by extension Flynn, would be framed for Kate’s death. Kate and August are forced on the run until they can work out who is on their side and who is working with the Corsai and Malchai to destroy the truce which already looks close to crumbling.
Kate is not like her father. She is not evil but she wants so badly to earn his respect and admiration that she is willing to go to any lengths to make him believe she is worthy of a place at his side. She takes control of her new school within the first day, using other people’s opinions and impressions of her against them and in her favour. However when it comes down to it she can never be as ruthless as her father is, even killing monsters shakes her to her core.
Once Kate knows what she wants she goes after it with a single minded determination, whether it be finding her way back home to Verity by being expelled from every other school her father sends her to, or kidnapping August, a Sunai, and taking him to her father to earn his respect. I had a hard time connecting to Kate at first but there’s no denying she is a brilliantly written character.
August is the opposite of Kate in nearly every way, though the two have their similarities as well. He is a monster who is fighting to be human, despite being a Sunai and needing to feed on humans. August pushes himself to the edge of starvation to avoid feeding. After seeing everything Flynn’s soldiers go through August is desperate to help in the fight. When Flynn comes to him with a mission August jumps at it, and even though attending high school isn’t what he had in mind.
At first there isn’t much of a relationship between Kate and August, they both see the other as an opportunity to prove themselves to their fathers, only in different ways. However as they spend time together, first in school and later on the run, they start to become friends and later they come to rely on one another more than anyone else. The relationship between Kate and August reminded me in times of the relationship between Lila and Kell from the Shades of Magic series and I’m interested to seeing how it progresses in the next book.
I really loved the relationship between August and his two siblings, Ilsa and Leo. As a Sunai August is incredibly rare and as such there is a close relationship between the only three existing ones. August, Ilsa and Leo were all affected by how they were created, it comes through in their personalities, and it was interesting seeing the differences between all three of them. They are all really close; Leo taking a mentor/older brother type stance with August, fighting for the younger Sunai’s right to prove himself. Ilsa and August rely on each other, and fight to protect the other because they each see something worth protecting and cherishing.
Like every other V.E. Schwab book I’ve read so far the world-building was brilliantly done. We go so much back-story on the monsters, how they were created, and the city of Verity itself, but it wasn’t given to us in massive info-dumps which slowed the story down. Years ago all the evil people were committing created a phenomenon which started spitting out three different kinds of monsters; Corsai, Malchai and Sunai, each created from the most horrific acts humans committed. The Sunai are the rarest as they are created from the most horrific acts of violence a person can commit, and hearing August’s past, as well as details of his brother’s and sister’s, was brilliant to read. After the phenomenon the city was split into two parts; one ruled by Harker and the other by Flynn. Both sides exist in relative peace thanks to a truce that was forced in horror and death, however it’s starting to crack at the edges and it’s easy to see the tension on both sides of the city. There is a big world outside of Verity which was hinted about. As much as we learnt about the monsters and Verity itself we didn’t get a glimpse at the world outside, at the other cities close by, something I’m hoping will change in the second book.
The plot was a little slow to get started however it allowed the world-building and characters time to be properly developed; I really enjoyed learning more about Verity, and about Kate and August. Once the plot did kick into high gear I couldn’t put this book down and overall I loved it, just as I have with every other book V.E. Schwab has released to date.
What did you think of This Savage Song? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.