Book Review : This Savage Song

Book Review : This Savage SongThis Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1) by Victoria Schwab
Published by Greenwillow Books on July 5th 2016
Pages: 469
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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.

This Savage Song follows two high schoolers, Kate Harker and August Flynn, from not only the opposite ends of the city, but also conflicting sides in a war. As if things weren’t already tense enough between the North and South of Verity, monsters roam the streets, and the leaderships of each side have very different ways of dealing with them. In spite of the fact that Kate and August’s families are in charge of this leadership on opposite sides, does not get in the way of their rapport with one another. 


Though I initially was skeptical of how much I would actually like This Savage Song because how different could a take on monsters really be in this day and age, I tore through the novel. Though I was right that there isn’t a lot new to this young adult fantasy book, I really was attached to the characters and had to know what happened to them. Typically I really hate when a main character in a book shares my name, I found I didn’t mind so much with Kate Harker, who is smart, tough, determined and resourceful. She is definitely no damsel in distress, even when she’s in distress. 


“Even if he could never be human. He wanted the chance to matter. He wanted to live.”


August was also very interesting to me. I really liked that he was a monster who didn’t want to be a monster. Though this trope is nothing new, the fact that he would prevent himself from feeding in order to be more human was interesting. So too were the entirety of the Sunai monsters, and how they were created from horrific events with a large amount of human deaths. I did think it was a bit random that these creatures had to use music to feed, and that they could only eat the life forces of sinners. There didn’t really seem to be good reasons for the music, the sinner dinners, or the marks on the Sunais either, but I just rolled with it. 


“Corsai fed on flesh and bone, Malchai on blood, and whose it was meant nothing to them. But the Sunai could feed only on sinners. That’s what set them apart. Their best-kept secret.”


The other monsters in This Savage Song weren’t really anything of note either, with one species essentially vampires and the other shadow men. But the creepy nursery rhymes describing their abilities, the curfews to keep people off the streets at night when the creatures roam, and protective medallions really set a palpable eerie mood that pervades the novel. I also really enjoyed the difference in ideologies towards monsters in the North and South factions. While the South hunts down monsters and kills them to protect its people, the North makes deals with the creatures, and allows its citizens to pay for protection from them. Though This Savage Song doesn’t get into the nitty gritty of how Kate’s dad made a deal with monsters or keeps them under control, Kate and August, as the children of the city leaders, do a great job of demonstrating the difference in lifestyles of the two cities. 


I was also relieved that This Savage Song didn’t force a romance between Kate and August. The novel really could have gone the Capulet and Montague route, but chose not to, which I really liked and respected. This Savage Song establishes an uneasy friendship between Kate and August and keeps it platonic and respectful. It doesn’t push instalove, but instead a mutual understanding of what it’s like to be an outsider. In the often cruel world of high school, acceptance and understanding is far more invaluable.


Quite honestly, though there isn’t a whole lot new to this novel, and it doesn’t do the most thorough job with its world building, I really liked This Savage Song. I had trouble putting the book down and immediately bought the sequel to it because I needed to know what happened. If you’re looking for a light, fun, and slightly spooky read, this is the perfect book for you.


For more books like This Savage Song, check out Non-Scary Books to Get You In the Halloween Spirit



Posted October 12, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult


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