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!
This Savage Song is a gothic-laced urban fantasy set in the divided city of Verity, a city straining under fraying peace. The north of the city is run in a mob-style rule by Callum Harker, who likes to think he has control over the monsters. The south is run by Henry Flynn, who controls his part of the city with through FTF, a military organisation. Kate Harker and August Flynn are descendants of the powerful rulers, struggling to figure out how to thrive, or even survive while the city threatens to collapse.
A dual perspective third-person narrative helps establish the tension between the two protagonists, as the reader is somewhat privy to the inner thoughts of Kate Harker and August Flynn, but a third rather than first person narration ensures a level of distance and mystique is maintained.
Both protagonists have their own secrets that they need to keep, secrets which, if exposed, would leave Kate and August vulnerable. The choice of narration style blends well with the tone of the story and the characters, and never feels like author intrusion.
Kate and August are well-balanced and fascinating characters to follow, with each burdened by insecurities fuelled by their lineage. I am a sucker for gothic elements, and was immediately drawn in by melodic song that sets up the lore and echoes throughout the novel. The song introduces the supernatural elements, while also setting up the political tension – alluding to the possibility that the species mentioned are not the only monsters.
Themes of social outcasts, family conflict, and societal and family pressure to live up to or defy expectations are explored throughout This Savage Song. With both Kate and August raised in environments that has led them to be mistrusting of others, the novel feels like watching the two characters dance around each other, constantly sizing each other up. The tension is palpable without any clear path set. The minor characters all have their own nuance, each with a higher purpose, rather than feeling like a plot device or filler.
This Savage Song is a questioning of societal norms, a love story to outcasts, and a bloody fun read. The sequel (of which I am yet to read!) is Our Dark Duet.