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BOOK REVIEW: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

| 13 June 2016 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: This Savage Song by V. E. Schwab

Titan Books
June 2016
Paperback, £7.99
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli




“And you?” asked Kate. “Your brother is righteous, your sister is scattered. What does that make you?”
When August answered, the word was small, almost too quiet to hear. “Lost.”

As a huge fan of Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, I was super excited when This Savage Song, a mash-up fantasy/dystopia book promising adventure and badassery, was announced. I was even more excited when Titan sent me a copy to review, and couldn’t wait to dive into it. It didn’t disappoint! In a future world, where monsters and humans fight for supremacy, the city of Verity is divided in two: South City and North City. One side is ruled by a bloodthirsty tycoon hellbent on making the monsters bow down to him, whilst South City is ruled by a doctor, and his fight in keeping the humans safe from the monsters… even though 90% of his family are, in fact, monsters.

These are your Grimm Brothers monsters. They’re vicious hunters that will eat anything that has blood and skin. They’ll pick their teeth with the bones. They stalk their prey, taunting with it until it, finally, brutally, falls into the trap.

Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal.
Sing you a song and steal your soul…

And there are many different types of monsters but, mostly, they fall into three categories: Corsai, Malchai and Sunai, with Sunai being at the top of this monstrous pyramid. The Sunai are indestructible, impossible to cage unless one has an abundance of iron, and impossible to kill. They feed on the souls of those who have wronged, and they need to feed, else they turn “dark.” And if they turn dark, people die. A lot of people, good and bad.

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.

Katie Harker is the heiress to North City. Her father is brutal in his ruling, forcing people to pay for his protection from the monsters, and if they can’t pay, they are nothing more than monster-treats. August Flynn is the song of Henry Flynn, ruler of South City, and a Sunai monster who doesn’t want to be a monster.

“Why would you even want to be human? We’re fragile. We die.”

“You also live. You don’t spend every day wondering why you exist, but don’t feel real, why you look human, but can’t be. You don’t do everything you can to be a good person only to have it constantly thrown in your face that you’re not a person at all.”

The two meet when August is sent undercover to one of the most prestigious schools in the North City, hunting territory for Harker’s men who are dying to get their hands on one of the last Sunais in existence. No one knows how or why the monsters arrived, and they want to find out — and what better way than torturing the answers from a Sunai? When an assassination attempt is made on Kate’s life, framing the Flynns, the two go on the run — on the run for answers that they may never find.

August wasn’t human. He wasn’t made of flesh and bone, or starlight. He was made of darkness.

This Savage Song is a unique take on the dystopian genre, a genre that has been squeezed of life, especially in YA. We’ve had aliens and humans and drastic wars that changed the course of humanity, but monsters is a completely new concept… and an incredibly well done one. As always, Schwab’s lyrical prose and incredibly storytelling brought this book to life, making one feel compassion for both the humans and the monsters in context. I fell in love with Kate’s need to please her father, to show him she is a Harker and is able to look after herself, as well as August’s desperation in wanting to be human and accepted by society, rather than hunted left, right and centre.

However, this book, although brilliantly done, was rather hard to get into. We are thrown a lot of information, and it takes a while to sink in, but whilst my mind was chewing over what we’ve been told, the plot hurtles forward. There’s murder and mayhem, and a soft, budding romance, and then suddenly it’s over, and I was left clutching the book, incredibly in love, but also wondering, “What the hell just happened?” Although it’s true of all Schwab’s first in a series, This Savage Song confused me the most. Maybe it was its length (just over 400 pages, which is long, but not long enough) or maybe it was because of how the character point of views switched, but I needed more to understand what was truly going on. Hopefully, the sequel will be like A Gathering of Shadows, giving the readers more answers.

This Savage Song was great: great characters, great plot, great storytelling, but for some reason, for most of the book, it left me feeling a little… put out. It wasn’t 100% everything I expected, but it was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.

One thing I will say is: Schwab wowed me once again, and I cannot wait to see what else she has hidden up her sleeve.


(This Savage Song is Book 1 in The Monsters of Verity series by V. E. Schwab.)

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

Comments (1)

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  1. Zoey River says:

    This Savage Song is an anticipated book of mine. Though I have to admit – I haven’t read anything by V.E. Schwab, and I thought to start with This Savage Song. Your review made me to want to read this book even more.
    It’s hard to do a non-spoiler review when all you want is to talk all about what happened in the book, yet somehow you managed to do a perfect one that really makes you want to pick this book up (:

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