"The Savage Song" by Victoria Schwab was the first time I’ve read her work, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. What I did know was that I was promised a lot of strange darkness — a dark urban fantasy set in a city overrun with monsters. In retrospect, I was already in love with this book before I even started it. The readers follow the perspective of two leads, Kate Harker and August Flynn, as they must make important distinctions on being heroes and villains, and human and monsters.
The two leads are characterized in vastly different ways with conflicting goals but are drawn together as they must flee for their lives. Kate Harker is the daughter of a man who lets monsters go free and makes people pay for his protection — August Flynn wants to have a big heart and protect innocent, but he’s a monster. He’s one of the rarest breeds of monsters, to boot: the rarest, and most mysterious, the soul-stealing Sunai. Having their personalities almost mimic what I would expect of the other character allows readers to sympathize with the struggle of existing outside of expectations.
This book, while not taking too many leaps with dramatic tension, subverted my expectations. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of the book is Victoria Schwab’s own description: ‘Sin City PLUS Romeo and Juliet MINUS romance PLUS monsters.” In most young adult novels, romance is almost expected any time the two leads of the story are male and female. It was a breath of fresh air seeing two complicated and rich characters follow each other in a storyline without a forced romance ruining their development. It showed that complex characters and plots do not need romance to be strange and satisfying.
Another intriguing aspect of this book is that, while there’s tension between monsters and humans, it also analyses the tensions of human relationships. In comparison, the humans can be much more monster-ish than the actual monsters. The truths behind this are hard hitting — the most terrifying monsters in our lives can be human.
One thing I must commend Victoria Schwab for, if not anything else, is her beautiful writing ability. The language used throughout this piece is both haunting and beautiful, leaving me ready for the second book in the Monsters of Verity duology, "Our Dark Duet." I devoured this delightfully dark book, full of monstrous fun, and will do the same with the rest of her books.