Book Reviews

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab



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 Schwaba 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.


There are few books that are able to trap me within their pages and steal my soul. This book turned out to be one of them, and I have been asking myself why I never picked up Victoria Schwab’s books before. The writing style was beautiful, the characters were dimensional and complex, and I loved the world as well!

The book takes place in an alternate universe, having branched away from our world some time after the Vietnam War, I believe. In this world, monsters spring from acts of violence, congregating heavily in cities such as Verity City. Verity is not only plagued by monsters, but divided physically in two—done by the Truce after years of fighting between two sides wanting control of the city. In this city, Kate Harker is the daughter of the man who rules one half, while August is a monster raised by Henry Flynn, who rules the other half.

Each character has their own goals, but in this city Kate and August’s paths cross and merge. When Kate returns to Verity after having been previously sent from its borders by her father, August is tasked with keeping an eye on the daughter of the enemy by disguising himself as human. But the city is growing more restless by the day, and after someone tries to assassinate Kate, the two end up working together to flee their pursuers and figure out who was behind the attempt.

The best thing about this book is definitely the characters. August is the boy who is a monster, yet longs to be human and is terrified of losing any shred of humanity he does have. It’s that struggle to draw the line between monster and human that appeals so much to me, and August’s anguish was written so well I felt it deeply.

Kate, on the other hand, wants to be tough, ruthless, and shuns weakness. After succeeding in making her father bring her home to Verity, she takes this as her chance to prove to him how strong she can be. All she wants is to make her father proud, and gosh it hurts. You see her acting tough and ruthless, but it’s all a mask, and you see her herself try to beat that humanity out of herself for a figure who was barely ever even in her life.

August and Kate’s dynamic is also just so great? Let me make it clear that there is no romance in this book, though I suppose some could choose to view it as the beginnings of a potential romance, though I don’t think the author will go there. As someone who enjoys the hate to love trope, I loved their relationship just as much even if it remained a friendship. In fact, I think that the choice to not make them attracted to each other was a good one, as a romance in their situation could have been unrealistic. This was just as good, if not better, than a well done romance.

I have heard some people say that Victoria Schwab’s books are slow, but I can only half agree with this. The first half of the book is, admittedly, slow plot-wise. However, there is enough to keep you occupied as you are introduced to the characters and the world, and I did not find myself bored at all. Then, after the first half, the plot picks up very quickly. There were plot twists I did not see coming (!!!), and the characters did not stagnate either and continued to develop.

One more thing: If you listen to audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to this one. I don’t usually note the narrators of audiobooks, but this one stood out to me as Therese Plummer captured the tone of the book perfectly. While I was surprised that there was not a separate narrator for Kate and August, in the end it didn’t matter because she did both voices beautifully! I can also still hear the haunting voice of the little girl singing the “monsters monsters big and small” song. I will make sure to pick up the audiobook version of the sequel!

I think that’s all I can write about this book without rambling and going into spoilers, so I’m just gonna go scream my love of this book to the sky now. If you have a love for character driven stories like I do, or if you have a love for that monster vs. human thing, or monsters in general, or pain, or friendship, then go read this book now! Ahem, as in, now.

Have you read This Savage Song, or is it on your TBR? What did you think? If you loved it as much as I do please let me know, for I need a soul who understands my pain now.

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