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This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

book cover of This Savage Song

Clearly, I did not really like this book.

It's sort of disappointing. I'd previously read three of V.E. Schwab's books (Vicious and the first two parts of her Shades of Magic trilogy), and thought they were uniformly great. As for this one… not so much. To be clear: I started reading this book in late 2016. I found it so boring, and dreaded reading it so much, that I didn't open my Kindle again for over a year. Once I did, I didn't remember anything about the story and had to start again. I still didn't find it interesting. In the end I only pushed through because I wanted to move on to other books. I didn't hate it, though. It even picked up in the second half. I just didn't like it very much.

So, what do we have in this book? We have our protagonists: Kate Harker, a teenage delinquent who deep down inside only wants the love of her dad. We have August Flynn, a member of a supernatural "species" called the Sunai. (I did like the concept and execution of the Sunai.) We have our setting, a city divided in two, one half run by Kate's ruthless dad, the other by August's not-so-ruthless family. Then there's a bunch of monsters, who up till now have apparently been under control… but they're getting restless.

So, here lies the problem: none of this really grabbed me. Perhaps I was spoilt by the depth and intrigue of the four Londons, but this city… it didn't seem well fleshed-out. The Sunai were good, but the other two monster species – the Malchai and the Corsai – made no real impression on me; I'm not even sure what the difference was between them. Kate didn't seem much more but an archetypal ’rebel girl with daddy issues’, while August had what you could fairly describe as a subtle personality.

As I say, the book wasn't all terrible. Despite the dullness of every school scene (one of them was literally just a geography class where the teacher gave a whole bunch of exposition about the city's surrounds… which I immediately forgot and never needed), there were some good moments of conflict in the second half of the novel. Kate's arc was satisfying. I don't know if I could be bothered ever reading the sequel, but it had its good points. I just wouldn't have read it in the first place, if I had the choice to do it again.

★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.