This Savage Song

They're not under your bed.
They're not in your closet.
They're stalking you in the city.  They're watching you as you sleep.  Born from death and destruction, monsters are oh so very real.

Welcome to Verity.

Once upon a time, long ago, monsters existed only in fairy tales.  They could be kissed away with a mother's smile or banished with the wave of a flashlight.  As it turns out, those are not the monsters we need to fear.  

"Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone with eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,

Sing you a song and steal your soul."

Out of all the ten Territories composed of what used to be the United States, the unrest in Verity took  a most unusual turn.  Creatures that once only stalked in the shadows of dreams began to hunt in the streets of V-city.  The raging, slashing Corsai and the scheming, blood-drinking Malchai appeared at crime scenes.  Sunai, the rarest of the monsters, were born from mass trauma and destruction.  The city split in two.  A man named Harker cut a devil's deal with the monsters, ensuring that they would not maim, assault, kill, or eat any person wearing his medallion in North City.  On the other side of the Rift, Flynn, a former doctor, leads guerrilla troops against monster incursions and raises the three Sunai as his own children.

August Flynn, the youngest Sunai, loathes his monstrous nature.  He wants nothing more than to be human.  Feeding upon the souls of sinners doesn't do much for a guy's self-esteem, so he starves himself, walking a fine line between humanity and "going dark."

Kate Harker has just torched the chapel of her sixth boarding school and receives a police escort home to her father.  She's determined to prove that she's ruthless, cunning, and cold-hearted enough to rule North V-city at her father's side.  Don't look at the scars on her head or mention her hearing loss or anything that might make her seem human.  She wants to be a monster.

This is the part where I'd normally say that they take one look at each other and fall hopelessly in love despite their relative stations in life and the hatred between their families.

Nope, doesn't happen.

After an assassination attempt and plot to frame August goes awry, Kate and August are on the run from their posh school in Verity and her father's monster patrol.  August is pushing himself to the limit by refusing to eat, and Kate frantically pushes away the memories of her past because she thinks they make her weak.  In a wasteland shack, both of them will discover what and who they truly are.

Although there's a definite attraction between the two of them, it's friendship first.  They are each other's melody and harmony.  Don't expect a happy ending--chaos and dissonance abound, with the leitmotif of hope floating gently through the aftermath.

This Savage Song is not a cinematic, plot-driven dystopia.  It's not ACTION and EXPLOSIONS and REVOLT AGAINST THE EVIL GOVERNMENT.  It is the interweaving of two solo lines that play off of each other to create a full, rich story.  It is a deep examination of what it means to accept your own nature, even if that nature is something cruel.  It is a song that humans have been singing since time began, one of sin and redemption, of love and of loss.  It is glorious and it is heartbreaking and it is something you absolutely must read.


I received an ARC of this title from Edelweiss.


  1. Short and sweet. And poetic. I love this review :).


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