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 Schwaba 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.

In true Victoria Schwab fashion, This Savage Song is amazing.

In even truer Victoria Schwab fashion, This Savage Song became one of my favorite reads of the year within, oh, five minutes of having started it. (And, to be fair, those five were just a desperate grasp for objectivity.)

Alas, I am not objective. Because, quite apart from being my second-favorite living author, Victoria Schwab is one versatile human being. After a YA paranormal with libraries of dead people instead of books (The Archived), a supervillain-vs-supervillain origin story and showdown in modern-day New York City (Vicious), a fantasy tale of four three parallel-universe Londons and a man who can cross between them (Shades of Magic), now comes a return to YA, this time in dystopian form with This Savage Song.

And, in the truest Victoria Schwab fashions of them all, the characterization and the atmospheric writing absolutely take the cake.

(Also taking the cake: music, intricate family dynamics, sass, existentialism, worldbuilding, morally grey areas, anti-heroism, and soul-bartering.)

In a city cleaved in two where no part is the good part and no part is the safe part, Kate Harker is the human daughter of the man who controls the monsters, and August Flynn is a monster child of a man who desires peace. Kate Harker is the type of girl who resents Catholic schools for forgiving her minor felonies, and doesn't want to resort to murder because it's inconvenient. August is the type of boy who celebrates each day without a kill like an alcoholic does a day without a drink.

Needless to say, there are no morally pristine characters to be found here. Which might yet be my truly favorite part.

When all hell breaks loose and the monsters follow suit ("What a good idea, breaking loose!"), Kate and August make a mad dash for the city limits, away from their families and away from the monsters. And this, really, is where the story begins.

Admittedly, This Savage Song does take awhile to pick up. But it's this initial worldbuilding process where the tension mounts and the atmospheric gloom settles in - not to mention, it leaves plenty of time for Kate and August to establish some top-quality banter and sass.

By the time the monsters run rampant, we care. By the time conspiracies unfold, we want Kate and August together in scenes, amping the tension up. And by the time the precarious peace crumbles, the series has it all. Monsters and music and anti-heroes. Violins and gore and unlikely allies. Song and death and orderly chaos.

And that, more than anything, is the hallmark of a truly promising series debut, for us of the morally questionable variety. (And, presumably, the other kind, as well.)

Talk to us, lovelies! What is your favorite Victoria/V.E. Schwab book/series? Have you read This Savage Song yet? (And if so, what did you think of it?) Leave us a comment below and let us know, or find us on social media, where we unsurprisingly quote Schwabisms and shamelessly fangirl to our hearts' content.