Verity is a city split along the Seam, the dividing line between North and South, both sides on the brink of war against the other and both filled with monsters. In the North, Callum Harker reigns victorious, his citizens paying dearly for the protection of an iron medallion to keep the behemoths away. His daughter Kate is more trouble than she’s worth but after getting kicked out of numerous boarding schools over the past six years she is finally back in the city and desperate to prove her metal. In the South we have the Flynns, fighting every day to destroy the monsters lurking in the shadows and taking out those who would create them. August Flynn is the youngest of the family and is struggling to combine his monstrous needs with his good heart. Both Kate and August feel they know what is right and wrong, but after a botched assassination attempt that forces them on the run, it becomes clear that even they don’t know who the real monsters are.
First of all I’d like to say how refreshing it was to read an urban fantasy with a male and female protagonist and no romantic entanglement. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of romance but when it is casually thrown into the mix with no real groundwork it bugs me. Thankfully Schwab avoided that possibility entirely, and it paid off. The dynamic between Kate and August is so good. It’s complex, each of them fighting their inner demons whilst also striving to bring out the best in the other. It is so addictive. Most of the characters are well developed and I have a feeling a few of them have more secrets that will hopefully come out in the second part of this duology.
This Savage Song was a thoroughly satisfying read, I enjoyed not knowing or even suspecting the plot twists when they came and I inwardly cheered when the bad guys got what they deserved. Action packed from start to finish and full of tension, I flew through this book. The character development was superb and I loved how Kate’s past came back to shock us. I felt the characters’ turmoil in my gut as I was reading it and thus found it a really immersive experience. This being said, I didn’t find the setting to be as scary as it could have been. Verity and the surrounding Wastes really had the potential for a truly terrifying world but I felt it fell somewhat short. Yes there were dark corners, carparks and alleyways, and yes the threat from the terrifying monsters was ever-present, but it wasn’t scary. I mean most of the story was set in a school. This Savage Song is advertised as YA in the States and as an Adult fantasy/YA crossover here in the UK and I would say it is definitely more on the YA side. I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole school centred aspects but it was necessary for the plot and I am hoping the second one gets a lot darker and grittier. In that respect I do prefer her Shade of Magic series as the characters are that bit older and the setting is completely fantastical rather than a dystopian USA. I find some of the characters and settings in those books to be terrifying so I know she can do it.
Overall a great read with interesting magic and characters. I will definitely be reading the next instalment but I am looking foreard to A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) more.
PS. The cover is just as stunning in real life as it is in the picture. I’m pleased that the storm helped make the photo more atmospheric, definitely reflects what’s inside the book!