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“This Savage Song” by Victoria Schwab: YA Book Review

Updated on May 23, 2020
Rose McCoy profile image

Rose loves music almost as much as she loves reading about it. As a string player and fantasy reader, books like these fit all her criteria.

What’s the Big Deal?

Voted one of Amazon’s best books of the year and a New York Times bestseller, This Savage Song is a pretty popular YA fantasy novel that hooked readers from the start. Having already written fantasy novels beforehand, such as 2013’s Vicious and the Children of Magic series, author Victoria Schwab shows that she’s got the hang of it in her 2016 duology featuring monsters, music, and more.

Book Summary

This Savage Song takes place in a harsh dystopia and follows August Flynn, the son of the leader of one side of the country, and Kate Harker, the daughter of the other. What once was the US has been split into two sides—naturally, they’re the North and the South, and although the North side offers protection by Kate’s father, neither side is safe. They’re both overrun by three types of fearsome monsters: the Corsai, the Malchai, and the Sunai.

August himself is a Sunai, one of the monsters who feeds on the souls of sinners by playing or singing a song. After convincing his father he can help with the South Side cause, August is recruited to join a new school so the Flynns can keep an eye on Kate and possibly gain leverage against the North. Kate, however, is no wuss. She recognizes something is off—and soon, she recognizes what August is. Planning to take August hostage and present him to her father as a prize, Kate stays after school one day and waits as August plays violin in a practice room. But as she’s waiting, two Malchai attack her. August ends up saving the day with the one weapon he‘s got: his song.

Soon, the pair realize that someone sent the two Malchai; it was a setup, meant to kill Kate and frame August. Realizing they aren’t safe, they wind up together in all sorts of situations—hijacking a car, hitchhiking once the car runs out of gas, hiding from cameras, finding Kate’s old house, and eventually dealing directly with the being who had the upper hand in the Malchai-driven sabotage. Ties are cut. People and monsters alike die. Revenge is had and lethal songs are sung. After all, anything’s fair game in a city full of sinners. Everyone—no matter who they are—is just trying to survive. And August and Kate will survive. No matter what it takes.


Book Stats
Author: Victoria (V. E.) Schwab
Pages: 427
Genre: YA fiction, fantasy, adventure
Ratings: 4.1/5 Goodreads, 4.5/5 Barnes & Noble
Release date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins

To Read or Not to Read?

I recommend this book if:

• Books like Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone series, The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, and even Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds spark your interest

• You enjoy the darknesses of life, its creepier aspects, and complex fantasy worlds

• You feel you’re in need of an adventure

• You’re a night owl; this book is a great one to read under the covers in the dark!

From the back cover:

“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.”


“Schwab’s latest seems poised to grab both her adult and teen readers; the world is fascinating (if sometimes a little thin—education and technology are almost exactly the same in this future), the characters complicated, and the political machinations and emotional depths both charged and compelling.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Schwab has built a strange, captivating alternate America filled with offbeat, fascinating characters... Readers looking for a dangerous and engrossing new world to fall into will find it with this fast-paced, frightening read.” —Publishers Weekly

Victoria Schwab, the book’s author
Victoria Schwab, the book’s author


After first coming across this novel in my local bookstore a couple of years ago, I knew I had to read it. I didn’t actually buy it, though, until recently, but when I did I quickly realized that my initial instincts were right. This Savage Song is easily engrossing, and the plot is well-paced and simple. Ending in regular cliffhangers, and a big one at the end, it keeps you wanting more, ready to buy the second book—Our Dark Duet—as soon as you close the first. Thank you, Ms. Schwab, for this riveting experience!

If you’re interested, you can buy the book here.


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    • Rose McCoy profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose McCoy 

      23 hours ago from West Virginia

      Hi Dina! Personally, I really loved August, mainly because he was so soft and sweet—as well as being a boy. I loved that he was written the way he was, proving that men don’t have to “act tough” to be masculine. I haven’t actually read anything else by her just yet—should I?

    • thedinasoaur profile image

      Dina AH 

      31 hours ago from United States

      I practically squeaked when I saw your review on the book discussion page on Hubpages! While "This Savage Song" isn't my absolute favorite Schwab work, I adored the cat-and-mouse format of the story. Plus, the way she teases out humanity vs. monstrosity was chilling. Do you have a favorite character in this duology? Have you read Schwab's "Vicious"?


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