This year I have three main reading goals for the upcoming year: Read as many new-ish books as possible. Read everything by V.E. Schwab. Read everything by Leigh Bardugo.
Why read so much by Victoria and Leigh? They’ve both had books on my TBR forever. And are much acclaimed, frequently praised authors. They’ve both been on my radar since their debut, and here I am. In 2018. Having not read any of their books. It’s time for a change. Reviews coming this month include This Savage Song, A Darker Shade of Magic, Six of Crows and Vicious. And wow. I’ve been depriving myself of these books for too long. Thus far these are all amazing.
Verity, a city filled with terrifying monsters, is home to August Flynn and Kate Harker, two teens on opposing sides of the divided city. Kate, after getting herself kicked out of boarding school after boarding school, finally returns to Verity in hopes of proving her ruthlessness to her own ruthless father. August, a monster who can steal souls with the use of a violin, is rarely permitted the chance to leave his family’s compound. When given the chance to attend school to spy on the now returning Kate, August is eager for the opportunity. Neither imagined they would end up fighting together against the forces trying to return the city to civil war.
Though there are plenty of other V. E. Schwab books to read, the three I wanted to try out most were This Savage Song, A Darker Shade of Magic and Vicious. Of those three, This Savage Song seemed like the one I was most likely not to like. So, with that opinion in mind, I read it first. I’m glad I did. If I had read A Darker Shade of Magic first, this book would have seen the letdown. (Just wait: My ADSOM review will be one the most glowing I’ve ever written on this site. That might seem impossible because I am more likely to write a positive review than a negative one, but ADSOM is on a whole other level of amazing.) But I did read this first. And after reading this, I knew my anticipation for Schwab books wasn’t for nothing.
This Savage Song has elements that fit into popular teen subgenres…like dystopian fiction, or the obsession of paranormal monsters…but is more original than most in any of the genres it fits. The monsters in this book are so terrifying and disturbingly beautiful. (Especially the Sunai.) Verity is established as a sector of what used to be the United States, but the dystopian background chaos of what happened to the US is minor and isn’t at all the draw of the story. And honestly, the plot is so unexpected.
The following may seem like spoilers, but these details happen so early in the story I don’t really consider them spoilers. You expect This Savage Song to be focus on August and Kate, and it does, but only within the context of school. That expectation is shattered.
After mere days of attending school together, Kate figures out August’s real identity. Before this potential conflict can ruin August’s life forever, something else horrible happens. Monsters attempt to kill Kate, and try to frame August in the process. This sends Kate and August on the run–together–in race against time to figure to out who is trying to revert Verity into another state of civil war. In some parts the book drags a bit, especially in the early pages, but really picks up the pace once Kate and August go on the run.
The book is shocking, ruthless, twisty, haunting and bleak. It’s not a book that will appeal to everyone, or even to everyone who reads and likes Schwab’s other books. To me, however, this was a great book. I can’t wait to read Schwab’s other books.