Duana Taha (Canadian writer and producer) often says variations of, “Give them what they need, not what they want”. Our Dark Duet, sequel to This Savage Song, seems like it was a case of Victoria Schwab following that advice. I wanted this book to be something else, instead it was the story that needed to be told because of the setting and characters. In my review of This Savage Song I said it, “is an urban fantasy inspired by the classic two houses divided shtick of Romeo and Juliet.” When I wrote that sentence, it should have rang alarm bells in my head that this story is going to end in tragedy.
In the first book we are introduced to Kate Harker, human, and August Flynn, monster. Their worlds messily collide and the pair are thrust together for survival. Working with one’s enemy has a way of changing how you view them, as a result Kate and August’s feelings for each other are quite different by the end of the book than they were at the beginning. Regardless of feelings, she has to go and he has to stay, and both wish it could be different.
Our Dark Duet opens after several months have passed since the events of the previous book. Kate is in a new territory, Prosperity, fighting only one type of monster, unlike the three found in Verity. Most of the populace is ignorant to the growing problem in their midst but Kate, chased by the ghosts of her past, is determined to make a difference. Then a new monster emerges. Not one that physically destroys but instead gets into peoples heads’, tapping into their despair and causing them to unleash their inner chaos, killing anyone within reach. In an attempt to infect Kate, this new monster, a chaos eater, has discovered a more alluring target for despair in the citizens of Verity and is on its way there. Being the only person with knowledge of the chaos eater, Kate races to Verity to warn August.
The war between monster and human is raging in Verity worse than ever. At a near stand still, neither side seems able to tip the scales in their favor. August has determined that Verity doesn’t need a Sunai who desires to be human, instead it needs a monster to keep the humans safe. Each time he blurs the line and takes on part of his Sunai form a little bit of his humanity seems to slip away. And when Kate and August finally meet again, she wants to know where the August she knew went.
In this world, monsters are created by the horrific acts of humans. The tell tale marker of such acts is the staining of the person’s soul from white to red. But with the rise of this new monster, humans are committing violence against their own volition. The result is a soul entwined, white and red. What was once a clear delineation is no longer a marker that can reliably tell a person’s innocence. But was the red soul ever a clear marker of a person’s guilt? A murder in self defense still creates a monster and stains a person’s soul, but does that automatically make them a bad person?
Can Kate and August stop the chaos eater? Can Kate redeem herself? Can August be both a monster and himself? Victoria Schwab brings the story to its needful conclusion but it is not the ending I wanted.