This Savage Song.
4 stars out of 5.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city, a grisly metropolis where the violence has begun to create real and deadly monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the inhabitants pay for his protection. August just wants to be human, as good-hearted as his own father but his curse is to be what the humans fear. The thin truce that keeps the Harker and Flynn families at peace is crumbling, and an assassination attempt forces Kate and August into a tenuous alliance. But how long will they survive in a city where no one is safe and monsters are real…
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The cover of the book stands out, the white background with the black embossed artwork incorporating a stylised rose and the books name in red lettering is a fairly simple minimal design without any clutter but at the same time looks really smart and stylish.
The book is 410 pages in length split into four parts with a prelude and an elegy. The story has a few surprises and twists thrown into the tale with some emotional moments to. After a slightly slow start the book picks up pace as events move the story along to its shocking and emotive conclusion.
In Verity, Schwab has created a great setting for This Savage Song to take place in. A couple of the reviews I read before accepting a copy of the book to review myself mentioned that the city setting was like Gotham from the Batman canon. I found that to not be the case, there are some similarities but Gotham to me is far more dark and brooding with gothic influences and architecture (that’s my own take on Gotham from the Gotham TV show, Batman movies and Arkham trilogy of games, I haven’t read any Batman comics and those that have may disagree with my assessment). However I found Verity and it’s surroundings to be an interesting setting in its own right, it’s well planned out and when your reading it feels large and sprawling in size immersing you in the created cityscape and outlying area.
On a whole I found the cast of characters to be all well written and fit their roles perfectly. Some could be classed as slightly stereotypical but nowadays that’s to be expected as there’s only so many different ways you can portray good guys/girls and bad guys/girls and the motives and reasons behind the path they choose to take in any sort of media, whether it’s books, gaming, film or TV shows. But when I felt it did occur it’s stereotyping done well and doesn’t come across as a parody. The Flynn and Harker families are a good choice for the warring sides in the book, with Flynn in control of one half of Verity and Harker in control of the other. August Flynn and Katherine Harker are great main character choices, both are flawed individuals that are very different from each other but put together they form a great duo for the core story of the book to revolve around. You care about them and are transfixed by their story and the events happening. When you have a book with two main protagonists, one being male and the other female there’s always a chance of romance. I don’t mind romance in books when it’s done well, written subtly and isn’t the main focus. I’m a fantasy fan particularly Grimdark, if I wanted badly written romance I’d read Mills and Boon! 🙂 Luckily there isn’t any romance involved in This Savage Song, Schwab stays away from adding it and the book is better for it. I feel that if she had added a romantic element between the two main characters then it would have detracted from the story being told, the events that take place and wouldn’t have fit with the book either.
The monsters created for the book really are ingenious, Schwab has a great imagination to have thought up such a different idea (I’d really like to know how she came up with the idea behind the monsters). The three types of monsters are conceived by violence, Corsai, the most common type from violent but non-lethal acts, Malchai, less common from murders and Sunai, the rarest type of monster from the most vile, heinous crimes like bombings and shootings, events that don’t merely take a single life but events that massacre countless innocent lives. The idea about the humans involved in the violence is also thoughtful, innocent people’s souls are pure/light and their shadows are just that, a stationary shadow. Whilst with the perpetrators of violence, their souls are red and canbe spotted as their shadows move, writhe and manifest behind them. As I wrote, it’s a surprisingly thoughtful idea and if your in the mood to look deep and reflect on real life atrocities it could make you question if a person’s actions do stain their soul. We use books as escapism and we all know from reality that not all humans are humane so it’s bound to be the same in fiction but Schwab with August Flynn manages to show us that not all monsters are monstrous.
Schwab has a decent, fast paced writing style that easily pulls you into her world and story. She never overburdens you with large amounts of irrelevant information but at the same time she gives you more than enough history to the events and world along with back story for her characters that you can’t help but become fully engrossed and captivated in the story.
Urban fantasy isn’t a genre that I regularly frequent, if I’m being honest I can’t even remember the last time I actually delved into the world of urban fantasy and I haven’t read any V.E Schwab books before, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and will gladly read the second part in the duology when it’s released. I’m intrigued to know where the story goes and interested to see what happens to both August and Katherine. Also after finishing the book I couldn’t help but think that it would make a great movie.
There’s alot to like in This Savage Song and it will appeal to fantasy, urban fantasy and YA genre book fans.