I blame my friend MEGHAN for making me read this, especially when I want the next book NOW. Which, unsurprisingly, is always the case with the Schwab books I’ve picked up. I think Schwab has it described accurately enough: Sin City and Romeo and Juliet minus the romance and plus the monsters. And it was effing fabulous.
THIS SAVAGE SONG
by Victoria Schwab
Greenwillow Books, July 2016
Rated: 4.5 / 5 cookies
YA urban fantasy, paranormal
Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.
August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.
Their city is divided.
Their city is crumbling.
Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.
But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it’s hard to tell which is which?
Okay, at this point, I’ve become a die-hard Schwab fan in the span of four books. Frankly, had This Savage Song been described to me as a Romeo and Juliet plus other things, I wouldn’t have been as gung-ho in reading and even buying it to add to my collection. But SCHWAB WROTE IT so it must be gold.
Bias, people. That’s what it is. But it’s a bias I am willing to admit I have, and I do not regret it.
The book is not the most magnificent Shwab I’ve read, and some of the themes are reminiscent of her adult novels (I mean, she practically quotes Victor Vale from Vicious at the beginning of TSS), which I loved. To a critical reader, this similar study of characters could have been repetitive and dull. But honestly, this is Schwab’s forte. She’s excelled in making villains look like heroes, and vice versa. She’s a study in character, and she studies character archetypes extensively.
So yeah, I love her books.
TSS is no different.
Here Is Why
Kate Harker practically burns down a chapel on the first effing page. I was done by that point. DONE. But I do think I need to keep going with this, don’t I?
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.
Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.
The entire rhyme is haunting and rhythmic and absolutely lovely. It helps you remember what the types of monsters are, and in the simplest–and IMO the most effective–mnemonic ever! That said, every time I read this poem in the book, I just hear it being creepily recited the way Hespith does the Broodmother poem in Dragon Age: Origins.
Kate had no pretentions–she knew her father was a bad man–but this city didn’t need a good one.
Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or details. The facts were simple. The South was chaos. The North was order. It was an order bought and paid for with blood and fear, but order all the same.
The writing, man. THE WRITING. The quote pretty much summarizes the problem in Verity, and how it defines the world around Kate as she sees it.
“Leo makes it look so simple, I thought we all burned the same way, but our brother burns like a torch, and…”
And Ilsa burned like a wildfire.
That said, August has just as much perspective in this book, and I LOVE THE FLYNNS OMGAH. Yes, even super-righteous, crazy-ass Leo.
There was no August in its face, only shadow.
No August in its eyes, only ember and ash.
I mean…COME ON. That description alone is just…sigh. Not in a romantic sense, but omgah sigh.
The lack of romance is not entirely surprising. I went into this YA book thinking there may be a romance, but Schwab took the non-YA route of not adding a romance into the mix. I mean, this could change in the next book, and it could very well be written in as part of the overall story. I would have no complaints, mind, but like A Darker Shade of Magic, I was super glad about the lack of romantic love in the story. There was already so much happening!
And can I talk about the fact that violence breeding monsters is an AMAZING CONCEPT? Yes? Because it is. It so is, I cannot even explain to you why I think this without ranting about the current state of our world as far as violence goes, but I mean…the bit where August explains how his Sunai brethren came to be? I may have teared. It was SO SAD. I love and hate Schwab for this. I really do.
4.5 out of 5 cookies! Is the book everything I expected from Schwab? Yes. Yes, it is. Did I love it as much as her adult novels? Mmm…maybe nearer a Vicious rating.