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.
If you know me at all, you’ll know that Victoria Schwab, Queen V, is my favourite author of all time. The first book I ever read by her was This Savage Song, and it was one of those books that I can safely say changed my life. And I don’t say that jokingly. It was so phenomenal that I’m not even sure I can properly explain how much this book means to me, and so I’ve been putting off reviewing it even after I’ve read it five times. It’s just stunning. I’ve got to the point where I have four copies of this book and can open it at any page and get back into the story without any difficulty. If this book ate me, I really wouldn’t mind.
And then the second book in this duology came out recently, and it made me fall in love with these two books in a completely new way. Our Dark Duet stabbed me in the heart over and over again, and I let it. It was the type of book that you know will ruin you and leave you a sobbing mess for the next three days, but you won’t mind, because it will change your life along the way and leave you a different person. I couldn’t have wished for a better ending to this series and while a part of me hates Queen V for ripping my heart out, I know she did it with the best intensions. I wouldn’t hesitate in giving my soul to her in the hopes that we could rule the world together.
This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet were very different books from one another in terms of what actually happened and the way the characters dramatically changed from the first instalment to the second, but ultimately, they were united by their underlying theme — that darkness exists within all of us and we are all waging different wars inside our heads, and sometimes we have to battle the darkness, and sometimes we simply have to make peace with it. This Savage Song came to me at a time that I was really struggling, and I’ll never forget the way it made me think about my demons in a whole different light. Because of August, I felt a little less alone in my battles.
In many ways, August’s struggle against his own monstrous nature and his wish to be human was very similar to one’s battle with mental illness. Hear me out here. His fear of becoming monstrous is a lot like someone’s struggling with their own depression or anxiety — a lot of the time, it can feel like you’re waging a war against yourself. His counting of the days since he last ‘fell’ is similar to the way someone counts how many days it was since they relapsed, and his fight against not ‘falling’ almost felt like the way one battles against self-harm or addiction. His story was raw and powerful, and I just connected to August on so many levels. Sure, he was a soul-stealing monster, but he was also very human.
Kate was the ultimate badass. I loved the way she so desperately tried to make her father happy and was willing to do anything to be with him and make him proud of her so that she could feel worthy. Her cruelty and bitterness was written about in a way I’d never experienced before — she wanted to be evil, but it wasn’t really her and she only did it to impress her wicked father. I really felt for her and her need for validation and acceptance, and I connected to her desire to be loved, whatever the cost. In Our Dark Duet, I really enjoyed seeing how her narrative changed and instead of August battling his demons, it was more about her struggles against the darkness within herself. Kate was such a complex character, and I cried over her and the situation she was in many times.
I’m so devastated that Kate and August’s stories are over now, but I couldn’t have wished for a better ending. Yes, the final pages felt like someone was stabbing a knife into my heart over and over again, but I loved it nonetheless. This is a series that will stay with me for a very long time to come. Side note, how amazing would an A Darker Shade of Magic and This Savage Song cross-over be?! I can totally see Kate and Lila teaming up to take over the world and Kell and August becoming hesitant friends. It’d be adorable. Okay, I’m off to write some fanfic to make this a reality and by the time I get back, y’all had better have read This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet! All hail Queen V.
Have you read any books by Queen V? Which series is your favourite? Were you surprised by the ending of Our Dark Duet? Which character did you love the most? Let’s fangirl together!