The ideas of humanizing monsters and monstrous humans seems to be a big theme with Victoria (V.E.) Schwab. This would normally annoy me, except that she does it so well, and with variety each time. This is my third series of hers that I’ve started, and each one is different in terms of world and characters. I’m saving the conclusion of one series, A Conjuring of Light, until the end of the current semester in 3 weeks; if I don’t I’ll be buried by grading I’ll ignore in trying to finish the book, and from the sound of it, emotionally not be in a good mood for concentrating at the end. Thus, I picked up the first of the Monsters of Verity series, This Savage Song.
In this world, there are 3 types of monsters, all born from human crimes or negative emotions. In V-City, Verity (the country), there is the North where you can buy protection from monsters from Callum Harker. In the South, you rely on Henry Flynn and his FTF force who fight to protect people. Both sides have monsters, and both sides fight monsters. What brings the two sides into contact in the story are children from each side, and naturally this happens at school. Kate Harker just wants to impress her father, so she gets herself thrown out of a series of boarding schools until finally her father puts her in one closer to home. August Flynn was raised by Henry, and happens to be one of three Sunai, the rarest and most mysterious of the monster breeds. He wants to help in the fight but isn’t allowed, until he gets sent to school to watch Kate. Naturally, they notice each other as fellow misfits, and once the school is inevitably attacked, they go on the run together. In the ensuing game of cat and mouse, they discover each other’s key secrets, but end up sticking together.
This is almost Romeo and Juliet, except that it’s done right. Kate and August don’t fall in love, but they do come to care what happens to the other. Each is forced to do or attempt something awful to save the other, and yet it still works out for the best in spite of the tragedies. The pet monsters of both the father’s reveal their true purposes towards the end, but I do wish we’d gotten more about their motives. That said, the to be continued moment after Kate sets off for parts unknown after the finale fight is pretty interesting in terms of her past catching up to her in a lot of ways. I still wonder how-why she forgot a lot of what she did. That much is never really answered.
August faces a similar problem, about not knowing something really important about his past, and while I hope we find that out, it seems less necessary in the short term. I’m betting that little bit of self-discovery becomes important in the sequel (due out soon). I do hope we see a little more of Ilsa though, since she seems similar to August in a lot of ways. The end with the two of them and Allegro, their cat, before the ‘to be continued’ set up, was sweet and tragic and generally well done.
I have high expectations of the sequel.