Published by HarperCollins on July 5th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
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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.
She liked the idea that there were a hundred different Kates, living a hundred different lives.
Maybe in one of them, there were no monsters.
3 1/2 stars. Okay, listen: I feel like I shouldn’t like this book. Compare this world to the marvelous multiple Londons, crossdressing pirates and evil twin rulers of the author’s A Darker Shade of Magic, and hell, does it pale in comparison. But screw it – this was dark, monstrous fun!
Thing is, there are those books you read and you know they are good in an objective way (or as close as is possible). You can’t help but appreciate them. This author is way smarter than me, you think. But that’s it. You don’t stay up late reading chapter after chapter because you need to know what happens. You don’t really care.
And then there are those books you know are not actually that amazing. The writing is decent, the world is not that unique, but you just can’t put them down. That’s the difference between a good book and an enjoyable one. For me, This Savage Song was the latter – a pageturning paranormal thriller with creepy monster rhymes, betrayals and an evil cliffhanger at the end of most of the chapters (I both love and hate when authors do that – don’t they understand I need to sleep?!)
Yes, this is a world of monsters: the flesh-eating Corsai, the blood-drinking Malchai, and the rarest, most mysterious of all: the soul-stealing Sunai.
“Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.”
Classic horror movies have made my skin instantly crawl at those creepy rhymes (view spoiler). In fact, I found parts of this book really scary. Schwab writes some tense scenes, the terror rising in the darkness as the situation grows more hopeless and the monsters creep ever closer (did I mention I need sleep?!). Damn, it was thrilling.
Yes, I realize I’m saying more about how this book made me feel, not what actually happens. Probably because, like I said at the beginning, the story and world don’t sound that unique. The monsters part is interesting, but it bugs me that this book has some dystopian aspects – it really should have just been a paranormal novel, instead of painting in some vague dysto-US background (this + the male/female perspectives + brewing social unrest = Legend by Marie Lu?).
Fortunately, I liked both characters and the third-person narrative; I also liked that the book had a male and a female protagonist but with no romance. I liked the ending (a nice wrap-up with a little bit of evil to keep us waiting for the next installment). I liked that I didn’t see some things coming, and I thought it was a testament to the author’s characterization that I was really affected by something that happened to a minor character.
But mostly? I liked the storytelling. This Savage Song won’t be winning any originality awards. It won’t change the world, or even the face of YA. But it was compelling, intriguing and just the right amount of creepy. I need the second book.