Victoria Schwab takes us into a world of manipulation, music and monsters with her highly anticipated novel This Savage Song

From the book flap:

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. In This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab creates a gritty, seething metropolis, one worthy of being compared to Gotham and to the four versions of London in her critically acclaimed fantasy for adults, A Darker Shade of Magic. Her heroes will face monsters intent on destroying them from every side—including the monsters within.

Overall: Victoria Schwab is a master world builder. She creates spaces that are layered, complex and involved. She also creates spaces that are gritty, sinister and unpleasant (and I mean in a good way). In This Savage Song, Schwab introduces us to a world that is similar to our own, but one in which a Phenomenon has occurred. In the post-Phenomenon world, acts of violence don’t just leave mental scars, they create flesh and blood monsters. In the aftermath of the Phenomenon, two men emerge as leaders: Callum Harker, the self appointed governor of the prosperous North Verity City where wealthy citizens pay for protection from the monster, and Henry Flynn leader of South Verity City where resources are scare and monsters plentiful. An uneasy peace has existed between the North and South, but that peace is breaking down and more and more monsters are slipping in.

Kate Harker is a girl who wants to be a monster. She wants desperately to be like her father Callum Harker- cold, ruthless, a survivor at all costs. When she returns to live with her father after being expelled from a series of boarding schools, she decides to harden herself in an attempt to win if not his love, than at least his respect.  August Flynn is a monster trying to be human. His adoptive father Henry Flynn tries to keep him out of the impending conflict, but August insists on joining the fight to defend his city.  August begins attending the same school as Kate with one mission: go undercover and get close to the daughter to Callum Harker just in case the truce fails and the North needs a bargaining chip. And by bargaining chip I mean hostage.

Kate and August are instantly drawn to one another, but not in the sappy insta-love way. Kate and August have an unspoken mutual respect because neither of them fits in. Kate is the bad-girl daughter or the most powerful man in Verity and August is an impostor- a monster playing at being human. Kate immediately senses there’s something different about August, but she has no idea just how different. But being a monster isn’t a secret August can hide forever. And when his secret is out will Kate turn August over to her father just to win his favor, even if it means starting a war?

Schwab defines the categories of her universe clearly: humans and monsters. But you quickly realize that just because you fit the category, doesn’t meant you fit the characteristic. August Flynn may look human with his curly black hair and grey eyes, but he’s not. He is a monster. He was born from an act of extreme violence and feeds on acts of violence to survive. But despite his origin and what he’s supposed to be, his actions are honest, kind and compassionate.  Is humanity something you’re born with or can it be earned or lost through your actions? Schwab makes us examine what is means to be human.

It makes sense that This Savage Song is the first book of a duology because the story itself is full of duos: good and evil, light and dark, truth and deception, creation and destruction, Kate and August.  As we watch Kate and August flicker between the light and dark, we’re not quite sure where they’ll end up but we definitely want to stick around to find out.

This Savage Song doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, but I will definitely be reading Monsters of Verity book 2 to see where this story goes next.

Judge a Book by its Cover: The blown-out dusky street image seen through the outline of a violin works perfectly for the story.

Kick-Ass Factor: Kate Harker is a girl I’d want on my side in a bar fight. In a world of monsters and thugs, Kate does more than just hold her own, she dominates.

Body Count: Let’s just say that no one’s hands are completely clean in this book.

Don’t Believe the Hype:  Victoria Schwab, aka V.E. Schwab, aka Literary Bad-ass, is one of the hardest working writers out there. She takes fantasy to new, interesting, dark places and we like it. We like it a lot.

If you haven’t discovered her A Dark Shade of Magic series yet, read my review here. Talk about world building!

Bizarre Love Triangle:  Who needs romance when you have MONSTERS?!

Open tab/Last call:  I’m buying a round of inky, bitter Fernet Branca shots for the monsters of Verity City and we’ll keep the tab open for Monsters of Verity Book 2.

fernet branca

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity Volume 1) will be out July 5, 2016 by Harper Collins, 464 pages. You can pre-order here.


We’re giving away a copy of This Savage Song! Check our pinned tweet on Twitter to enter. Contest open May 18th through May 30th. US only.