Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Rose Red's Love Letter to This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

I have been working on my review of This Savage Song for a week now and I still can't adequately put my thoughts and feelings about it into words. It was dark, violent, heartbreaking, relatable, and so totally amazing that I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to put all of my feelings about it in one place. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I can't write what I'd consider a normal review for this book. So I'm going to do something a little different than normal so bear with me.

This Savage Song
(Monsters of Verity #1)
Victoria Schwab
Release: July 5, 2016
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There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
Review by Rose Red:

I had been waiting for This Savage Song ever since Victoria Schwab tweeted about the little book she had dubbed Monster where a girl burns down a church. This was a couple of years ago and I'm so glad that she wrote her little Monster book.

This Savage Song takes place in a world where violence spawns monsters. There are three main monsters created by violence and they're forever immortalized in my mind thanks to a creepy little rhyme that Schwab has a little girl sing on the subway.
“Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They're gonna come and eat you all.
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will 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.
Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They're gonna come and eat you all!” 
The Corsai are spawned from every day acts of violence and are manifested as shadows who eat literally everything. Alive or dead. It doesn't matter. The Malchai come from murders and they take on part of the personality/malevolence of the murderer. They're a vampiric monster who feed on the blood of humans. Then we have the Sunai who are created from mass tragedies like school shootings, bombings, mass suicides, etc and they consume souls.

So in a world of monsters, we have a story that revolves around a star-crossed friendship between a human who wants to be a monster and a monster who wants to be human. It's a story that is violent yet beautiful. The darkness and violence is a lot but it is also balanced with an equal amount of hope and light. And that's all I'm going to tell you about the world and plot of this book.

I'm going to get a little personal. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can stop here and know I adored this book and you should go read it. What I want to do with the rest of this review is to write a letter to the author. I know that sounds weird but I feel like it's the best way I can express my thoughts and feelings. Because this book, is one of those books I wish that I could send to Teen Rose Red. She needed this book just as much as 29 Year Old Rose Red did now.

Dear Victoria Schwab,

I don't think you'll ever read this but I needed to write it just the same. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for your books in words but I especially cannot find the words to thank you for This Savage Song. But I'm going to try because while Thank You would probably work, it feels inadequate. You are one of those authors that I know I can always depend on to write a story that will equal parts enthrall, amaze, and destroy me. I discovered The Archived in my local Barnes and Noble a few years ago and I haven't looked back. You have helped me step back from reality multiple times and it has left me changed for the better each time. As you said, "I mean, most people want to escape. Get out of their heads. Out of their lives. Stories are the easiest way to do that.” and “The beautiful thing about books was that anyone could open them”.

A photo posted by Jessie H. (@bookishjessi) on

Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to see you on tour. I was awkward and anxious so I couldn't get the words out I wanted to tell you then, but I'm going to try to do so now.

It was amazing listening to you answer questions about your books, your anxiety, and your writing process. What really stuck with me was in your response to a question about how you write your characters who are all different sorts of outsiders. You said that you write a little bit of yourself into each of your characters so you see yourself in all of them.

This may not be profound to most but it really hit me hard. Because as a reader of your books, I have seen a bit of myself in everyone of your characters. This is why I love your books. I have always been an outsider but I always felt like I shouldn't feel like an outsider. In your books, I see myself where I never saw myself before. I could write an essay on how I see myself in Victor Vale and Wesley Ayers and Mackenzie Bishop and Lila Bard and Rhy Maresh and Kell Maresh and even Holland. I could wax poetic about how each of their books helped me through difficult times but that can wait for another day. Today, I want to talk about August Flynn and Kate Harker and how much they mean to me.

I had to pause in reading This Savage Song multiple times because it hit too close to home so many times. August and Kate struggle with something I've struggled with my whole life and that's wanting to be something you're not.

I related to Kate in a way I never dreamed I would when I read the opening scene. While I never had to work to be accepted by my family, I had to work to be accepted by the conservative community I grew up in. And even then, their acceptance was for the illusion of the person they thought I was. I only let them see a piece and not the whole me. Women were supposed to prepare to be stay-at-home moms or to go into a "feminine" career like teaching. While there is nothing wrong with either of those things, they weren't for me. Science is my life-blood and I was looked down upon for choosing it as my career. So watching Kate strive to become more monstrous so she could prove to her father that she was tough enough and ruthless enough to rule the city with him really resonated with me. Thank you for writing her as someone who is surly AND anxious AND passionate about doing things herself. I am all of those things, sometimes all at once, and I needed to see that in a character.

And August. My dear, sweet August. I related to him so much that I bawled during portions of this book. August wants with everything in him to just be normal. To be human and not have to consume souls to survive. Oh! How I understand that desire! I'm a Type 1 diabetic. Diabetes is hard no matter how old you are or which type you're diagnosed with, but it's something I would have sold my soul to have go away. I wanted to be normal like the other kids who didn't have special diets and were never denied a piece of birthday cake because an adult didn't want to deal with taking blood sugar readings later. While August starved himself, I would binge on the sugar I was supposed to be careful with. The shower scene, Victoria! The shower scene! I had to put the book down because I was sobbing. I've been there. I've been in that shower physically, mentally, and emotionally like that. No truer words were ever spoken than those spoken by August and the ones Kate said in response:
"It hurts. Being. Not being. Giving in. Holding out. No matter what I do, it hurts."

Kate tipped her head back against the tub. "That's life, August," she said. "
You wanted to feel alive, right? It doesn't matter if you're monster or human. Living hurts.”
In my twenty-five years of reading, I have never related to a book on this level before. August and Kate's struggles were and are my struggles. They want to be something else when they just haven't realized that they're exactly what they need to be. I've been exactly where they are time and time again. They're still trying to figure out who they are and come to terms with that in comparison with who they want and need to be.

I needed this book in my life. Some of the reasons besides the ones stated are too personal for me to share on the internet but I needed these words so much. They made me realize that I have come much farther in my journey to accept myself as I am, diabetes and all, than I thought I had. I'm still working on that and so are they. But their story still gives me hope that we'll all make it even on the days that send us two steps back.

Thank you. Thank you for writing this story, Victoria. I needed it and I am sure that there are others who needed it too. Thank you for your strange little Monster book and the other strange worlds and characters you have kindly shared with us. I look forward to seeing how Kate and August's story plays out,

Sincerely, from one of the strange, and the mad, and the monstrous,
Rose Red

ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.

  4.5 / 5 Stars

My reviews of other books by this author:
Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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