This Savage Song clearly has a theme: the monster who wants to be human and the human who wants to be a monster. Yes, they are going to meet on the side of human rather than monster. But the premise of the worldbuilding here is intriguing and the story moves briskly. It’s a quick read with a solid ending that does not rest on a cliffhanger.
Story: Kate Harker’s father is the warlord controlling half the city of Verity; a city under siege by monsters manifested from humanity’s evil. If you want to be safe from the monsters, you pay Harker to make sure they don’t kill you. August Flynn, a monster, is the son of Harker’s opposition – the leader of the other half of the city. Harker has the base monsters on his side. Flynn has the fewer but far more powerful monsters adopted into his ‘family.’ When Kate meets August at school, they will find themselves hunted by forces intent on forcing the city into a war that is brewing ever under the surface. For the monsters don’t want to be subservient to Harker any longer – and recognize the danger of Flynn and his ‘family.’
There are bold chances taken with the story: such as beginning with our main character Kate burning down a church just so she can get daddy’s attention. Kate is done with boarding schools and desperate seeks her ruthless father’s approval. She’s a human who wants to become a monster so as to gain acceptance and return home. August, meanwhile, is a sunai – a monster who consumes souls. His brother and sister are also sunai. And while August resists the eating of souls, his siblings aren’t quite so sanguine. And so August fights his nature every day. So yes, August is a milquetoast and Kate is extremely aggressive. Not your every day hero and heroine.
The writing is crisp and the plot flows. There are very few down points and plenty of action and twists throughout. Author Schwab does an excellent job at the reveals and keeps readers guessing through much of this first book in the series. I found I had read it in a few short hours and certainly there was the temptation to do an all-night read.
Yes, this is the set up novel for our two main characters meeting, with a small arc as a part of a much larger one (likely, the origins of the monsters and possibly a war of humans vs monsters). It will be interesting to see where Schwab takes the story from here. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the pubisher.