I have to admit: Schwab’s books are either a hit or miss for me, and I’ve avoided reading more of her books for that reason.
But I think This Savage Song, the first in the duology, is my favorite of hers so far!
It follows two juniors in high school named Kate and August, in an apocalyptic America that’s been divided into territories and overrun with monsters born from violence.
Kate is the daughter of Harker, who rules one side of the city of Verity, and August’s father is Flynn, who rules the other side. Kate does her best to get kicked out of every boarding school her father has dumped her in, in an attempt to come home to Verity. When Kate finally returns to Verity, August is enrolled into her high school, his enemy’s high school, in order to spy on her.
But here’s the thing: August isn’t actually human, no matter how hard he tries to be. He’s a Sunai, and he can reap souls through music, with his violin.
I loved the gritty, urban feel of this book. Schwab’s writing style definitely works the best with this kind of book (as opposed to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which is a lot less punchy and to the point, and instead very flowery). And I’m always a sucker for a dual POV.
August was by far my favorite character in this book. I loved his personality, and how he tries his best to balance who he wants to be with his monster side. And his musical, monster-y superpower was so interesting to read about. He’s such a wholesome and well-rounded character.
Kate is a great character, too. Schwab did a great job of writing how her past trauma impacted her and continues to influence her character. She’s a strong badass with a soft side, and she and August’s personalities mesh well together.
Though a long book, the pacing was great, and I loved the survival plotline.
Our Dark Duet
I flew through this book because I wanted to know what happened. That being said, it just felt a little disjointed, especially in comparison to the first one. The gritty vibes were all there, all good, and I really liked Kate’s character arc.
I liked August’s character arc, too, but I felt like we didn’t get to see his transformation, while we got scenes in the beginning explaining and detailing how Kate got to where she is.
The plot was a little bit frustrating, mostly because there was one monster that appears and is never explained/explored enough, so that I was left with a lot of questions. But mostly, I enjoyed this book overall…if it wasn’t for the ending.
It was a very specific kind of ending that I really, really don’t like. It’s totally a personal preference, but for me, it just kind of ruined the story.
Overall, if you’re looking for a gritty, YA urban fantasy, definitely pick this up! Now, the question is: should I finally read A Darker Shade of Magic?