“I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.”
I’ve had three experiences with V. E. Schwab’s books. The first was The Archived duo, which was interesting enough to read; then came Vicious, but considering I’d been in a terrible slump, it was left to try again another day; finally, in the past few weeks, I read This Savage Song and was convinced to not only go back to the book I abandoned, but also read the others.
There is a city overrun with monsters and war, and that city is separated by its heirs, August Flynn and Kate Harker. The former just wants to be human, whilst the former wants to be as ruthless as her father. But after an assassination attempt, and despite the line that divides them, the two must come together and flee for their lives.
First off, the world-building, otherwise known as a stable balance between not enough and too much. It wasn’t overwhelming for me to understand, and the creatures and settings were what made this so impressive. That itself also never strayed into graphic detail; it wasn’t needed, holding onto an underlying creepiness and intensity to keep one hooked. I’m still asking myself the questions about what the sequel will hold which, even though the story can end as is, doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to the future instalment.
It does take some time to reach the action and adventure of things, around sixty percent, but as it’s well-written, no form of impatience came to mind. You’d think so since pacing, for me, is the deal-breaker, but everything came together smoothly, without so much of anything out of place. Even when some things bordered on cliché, particularly dialogue, again it didn’t matter at all.
“The beautiful thing about books was that anyone could open them.”
August and Kate are a strong duo, their characters a clear contrast, one quieter and good-natured, the other fierce and determined, but together show a protective and gentle side to one another. Other supporting characters portrayed other aspects of life, such as wonder and violence, the hunger for authority and the war between two powerful sides. There was a good mixture between serious, action-packed scenes, and tender, enlightening moments.
And, what I was thankful for, there was no romance that hadn’t already been established. Subplots were the struggles of strained relationships between family life, or adjusting to the outside world, the monsters that burdened the city, and the building tension towards breaking point.
“It was a cruel trick of the universe, thought August, that he only felt human after doing something monstrous.”
This Savage Song has been the most compelling read of the year, and though there is a familiarity in its plot, the execution overrules that. As soon as I can afford it, Our Dark Duet will be the next off my list to buy.