This Savage Song

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab (Monsters of Verity #1)

Genre: Dystopia, Urban Fantasy, YA

Publisher Greenwillow Books on July 5, 2016

Source: Publisher

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My thanks to Greenwillow Books for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. View Spoiler »

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Schwab’s beautifully spare writing has a way of capturing your attention immediately, and I was hooked on THIS SAVAGE SONG from the opening sentence. Her style is ideal for a dystopian novel as she’s able to convey the stark reality of life in a place like Verity, where evil lurks in the hearts of more than just the Monsters.

More than a decade ago, the Phenomenon occurred, an event that’s turned any act of violence into a breeding ground for Monsters. If you kill someone, the energy from that act will manifest into one of the three species of Monsters, who carry on the cycle of violence…or consume the souls of the guilty.

For August Flynn and Kate Harker, determining who the real monsters are has always been difficult. Living in two separate halves of the city of Verity, these teens have very different lives. August is the son of a paramilitary commander who seeks to fight and kill the monsters while on the other side Kate is desperately scrambling to earn the respect and love of her father, the Mafioso-like man who sells protection from the Monsters – the ones he keeps on retainer.

If you’re anticipating that these two star-crossed teens will inevitably fall in love, you called it too soon. August and Kate are barely even friends, let alone lovers. But being isolated from and feared by your peers – even when it’s what you want – gets lonely after sixteen years, so when these two meet and sense a kind of kinship, a tentative alliance is formed.

Victoria Schwab does a fantastic job with world building in THIS SAVAGE SONG, crafting Verity into the kind of place with an atmosphere of tension so thick that you practically have to wade through it. There were several scenes set in the underground of the city that had me holding my breath and white-knuckling my e-reader, that’s how anxious I was! The wastelands outside of the city’s boundaries were also very well done, and had a distinct post-apocalyptic, everyone-for-themselves kind of feel to it.

The various abilities and characteristics of the three Monster species were also really well done, especially the incorporation of music. Corsai, Malchai, and Sunai are all distinct species with distinct goals and abilities, but the most fearsome of all is the Sunai, the unknowable entity who will sing you a song and steal your soul. Maybe I’m easy, but if music is part of your magic system I’m almost guaranteed to love it!

Now obviously THIS SAVAGE SONG isn’t a subtle book, what with the frequently repeated theme of violence begetting violence. But you know what? That’s a message that more people need to hear, so I wasn’t too bothered by the repetition. I also enjoyed reading about the internal struggles of August and Kate, one to resist the need for violence and the other ruthlessly suppressing their instinct for empathy. From what I’ve seen on social media, Schwab has a tendency to write about torn and ruthless characters and that was certainly the case here.

As this was my first book by Schwab, I can’t compare it to her other works. But I really liked what I saw and I’m very eager to dive into her previous works so I can see how they stack up! Recommended for fans of dystopia, good writing, and morally ambiguous characters.

What is your favourite book by Vicoria/V.E. Schwab? Do you plan to read THIS SAVAGE SONG? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I’ve only read one book by Schwab and I absolutely loved it. She has a very engaging writing style. I’ve had this one for a bit, but I’ve been hesitant to read it because I haven’t been having the best luck with a lot of new YA releases. Though I’m very much a romance reader, I’m glad that these two aren’t falling in love. It’s rather refreshing! I’m really curious about all these abilities too.
    Great review! 🙂

    Nick @ Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist

    1. I’ve heard fantastic things about Schwab’s adult titles so I’m excited to get to those – although I’ve been having good luck with YA, I definitely prefer adult reads.

      I’m 100% a romance reader too! But after reading about a thousand YA dystopians with the dual POVs of people who fall in love, this one was kind of a relief. I’ve got all my fantasy romance novels to fill the romance gap 😉

      Thanks Nick! 🙂

  2. I just reviewed this today too:-) I agree, I really enjoyed this as well, although it isn’t my favorite Schwab book. That honor goes to Vicious, which is one of my all time favorite books EVER. I had some issues with the world building but still, it’s hard to find fault with such lovely writing and characters.

    1. Woohoo, release day review twins! I’ve definitely heard that a lot of people prefer her adult works, and I do own a copy of Vicious, so I’m really excited to dive into those!

      The characters are definitely what made this one for me. Kate and August are SO great, and I loved Isla too!

  3. Omg, this one was sooooooooooooooo good!

    1. Right?! Such a fun read, with great writing to boot! 🙂

    • Lynn Williams

    • 6 years ago

    Can’t wait to read this – I have a copy and all these great reviews are making me crazy! Need more time.
    Lynn 😀

    1. I barely had time to read it before the digital rights to the ARC expired, hahaha! That classic problem of too little time and all these great books.

  4. Argghh, I started this book about a month ago but then got sidetracked with a gazillion other things I was doing – I really liked what I read though, so hopefully I’ll be finishing this one soon! 🙂

    1. I absolutely loved the opening chapters of this one, they sucked me into the book right away. I hope you enjoy the rest of the book! 🙂

  5. Yaaasss, I really liked this book! It was my first YA book by Schwab (I’ve read two of her adult ones) and I really liked it. I do like that there was no romance in this book! But of course, that makes me hope for a little romance in book two. 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed this book! Wonderful review. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. UGH it was so good!!! I’m also really pleased that it’s a duology as opposed to a trilogy or a long-running series – as much as I love those sometimes, it’s nice to know that the story won’t go on forever.

      LOL yes, I do love a good romance! 😉

  6. This sounds like a really great urban fantasy, I did really enjoy Vicious and dystopian’s are my thing. Great Review

    1. It was so good! Definitely a very interesting book in Schwab’s distinct style, but it does have a dystopian vibe. Maybe you’d enjoy A Darker Shade of Magic more!

  7. Gah, I have so many of your posts to comment on (too many tabs open in my browser, I’m SO behind with commenting in general…).

    But YEAH, This Savage Song. I am very, very glad you liked your first Schwab book. You know I’m a fan and TSS didn’t disappoint!

    You know, she’s actually written that TSS isn’t a dystopian novel – though that’s what I thought it was as well. She said it’s like our world, only all the trouble is amped up. And considering recent events, she’s not far off the mark, huh? Yeah, the “violence breeds violence” message was pretty strongly expressed, but then what better way to teach kids about this than through literature? I think we need more books like this.

    And I agree about her writing and worldbuilding. She has great style and pacing and a really strange mind, too, so her books are always a surprise. 🙂

    1. Haha I know that feeling! All it takes is a few days and then suddenly there are 1000 posts to comment on!

      I really enjoyed it, which is a relief given the amount of passion that people have for her work! Interesting! That’s a cool perspective on the genre angle, I can see what she means in terms of the realities of violence in our world for sure. I’m probably going to keep calling it a dystopian UF though, because it’s just the easiest way to describe it. Shhh, don’t tell! 😉

      Her writing is really distinctive and sharp, and I’m really looking forward to reading more of her stuff. I’ve had a copy of Vicious sitting unread on my shelves for years now (years!) so I think that’ll be my next Schwab read. 🙂

      1. Ahh, if you already have Vicious, you should definitely give it a try soon. I think it might be my favourite Schwab book? And that’s saying something. 🙂

        I was actually disappointed when I saw it would be getting a sequel – I thought it worked really well as a standalone.

  8. I just read my first Victoria Schwab recently and loved it (A Darker Shade of Magic) so obviously want to read more. As soon as I read the rest of that series that is available this looks like a really great one to dive into! I love the premise even if it is heavy handed.

    1. Ahhhh I’ve heard fantastic things about Schwab’s adult stuff, especially ADSOM! I’ve heard that there’s great world building, swash buckling, and queer representation. Those are all things that I love! 😀

      I really hope you enjoy this one, Stephanie! As long as you’re not put off by the heavy-handedness, I think you’ll really enjoy This Savage Song.

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