I received This Savage Song as part of a subscription box called Owlcrate, that I sometimes subscribe to. The theme of the month was good versus evil. This book fit that theme perfectly.
Victoria Schwab is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors. She has a unique storytelling ability. I recently finished what is published of her Shades of Magic series (reivew of the first one, Darker Shade of Magic, here). She has a way of looking at things with a fresh view.
This Savage Song explores the idea of what makes someone a monster. Does it have to do with experiences in life or are there outer influences that factor in? The line between what is good and what is evil is a very blurry one and Schwab takes a unique look at the concept.
This Savage Song takes place in a world where violence breeds literal monsters. Every robbery, murder and dark deed creates one of three types of monsters, the Malchai, the Corsai or the Sunai.
The city is divided into two portions, North and South. North City is run by a ruthless man by the name of Harker. He rules by fear and money. Everyone in his portion either pays for his protection or risks being killed by one of the monsters. He also controls some of the monsters, using them as servants or slaves.
The South City is run by Henry Flynn. He does not rule by fear but by strength. He runs an army who patrols the city, looking to take out the monsters and keep people safe in that way. He does not control any of the monsters but he does work with three of them. He has essentially adopted three Sunai (the rarest type of monster because they only are created by a massacre or event that creates mass casualities). He does not use them as servants though, he sees them as children or part of his family.
August is the youngest Sunai that lives with Flynn. He was “born,” from a school massacre. Unlike the Malchai or Corsai, who are all about killing and harming, the Sunai are much more in control of themselves. They are not ruthless killers, only able to harm those who are considered sinners. They are close to human in looks and the ways they think.
Kate is Harker’s daughter. She has been living in the outskirts of the cities for years, for her own protection or so she is told. She wants nothing more than to come home and prove her worth to her father. Her father values only power and strength. Kate sets out to prove her worth and prove that she is not weak to her father.
At school Kate and August meet and quickly create a friendship. They see something in each other, an outcast, just trying to find their place in a world they don’t understand. They form a bond, two people who do not fit the perimeters they are supposed to fit. August is supposed to be a monster, only wanting to harm and rule while Kate is supposed to be a scared human who only wants to survive.
This is what I loved most about this book. Both Kate and August do not fit the molds they are meant to fit. August is a monster, there are certain connotations that come with that title. He is supposed to be blood-thirsty and power hungry, but all August wants is to fit in, to feel human and not to harm others. He does not want to fit that monster stereotype. But to survive he has to feed, he feeds on sinners but even that makes him feel bad.
Kate on the other hand is a human. She should be scared of monsters. She should want to run all the time but she doesn’t. She is dead-set on proving to her father that she is a strong person. She does some dark deeds that could be considered monstrous.
The line between good and evil is a very grey one. There is no one way to define either. No one is fully good or fully evil. There is a part of each in all of us and this story does a great job at exploring that idea. August and Kate both have dark and light sides to them. Together they get to explore what those sides mean and how to live with them. There are times that both are appropriate.
I always love stories that explore this idea. I hate when the antagonist has no redeeming qualities and the protagonist has no flaws. Neither of those is realistic. Both Kate and August has some serious flaws but together they balance each other out. They allow each other to see who they are and they form a bond over this idea.
Now, another aspect of this book that I really liked was that the bond Kate and August create is not a romantic one. They are not falling in love throughout the story. They form a bond of friendship and from other reviews I have seen and watched they are going to go no further than friends.
It is refreshing to read a story (espeically YA) that is not centered on a romance. A girl and a guy can be just friends, they do not always have to fall for one another. A story does not alway have to have romance to make it relatable. Also, two people do not need to be in love to form a strong and unbreakable bond. A friendship, many times, can be stronger than a romantic connection. I love exploring the power of friendship and the tight bond two people can form with one another. I am eager to see how much deeper and stronger their friendship gets in the next book.
If you enjoy stories that look at the line between good and evil or if you enjoy stories of two unlikely people forming a tight friendship you will enjoy this book. I heard it is only going to be a duology, so it will be interesting to see how this all wraps up in the next book.
This episode was Regina centric. Regina started her stint as spy with The Queens and we got a flashback where we learned that Regina is responsible for Maleficent getting her power back. This flashback was used mostly to show how at one point Regina reminded Maleficent of who she was and now it would seem that Maleficent is trying to repay the favor.
The episode starts with Regina approaching The Queens and telling them that she wants in on their plan. They, of course, do not trust her at her word. She has to prove herself to them. They put her through a few trivial trials to see if she has gone soft. She needs to prove beyond a doubt that she is on their side or else they will never tell her what she needs to know.
Regina is not happy about her roll but she is determined to play it right. This Regina is confident in herself and her abilities to connect with these women and make them trust her. This Regina is much different then the one who approached Maleficent all those years ago.
When Regina walked in Maleficent’s castle she was scared and timid. She knew she was walking into the home of someone who could easily kill her. She knew the stories and knew the power this woman was supposed to possess. What she found is a disaster of a woman. Maleficent is depressed and cares about nothing and no one. This threw Regina for a loop because she always saw power as keeping someone together. If you are super powerful then you need nothing else. There is nothing that can break you and no one that can hurt you. What she saw before her was the opposite of that. Maleficent failed at her mission and she was beyond hope. This one moment does humanize someone that is supposed to be our major villain. These people are not infallible. They can hurt and they can break. Regina has shown us this process throughout the seasons.
Past Regina is concentrated on revenge and getting to hurt Snow White. She becomes determined to help Maleficent regain her past power and ability to become a dragon. She needs to reignite the fire inside of her. Regina needs to see that this woman can get her revenge and hurt people. Regina needs to see a revenge plan in action.
Rumple is Regina’s teacher at this point and he sent her to Maleficent because Regina is impatient. Regina wants Snow dead and she wants her dead now. She thinks that with Snow dead she will have her revenge and the ache in her chest will ease. What Maleficent teaches her is that revenge takes time. She also learns that killing Snow is not the answer. This is the point when Regina put her plan of destroying everything Snow loves into action. We learn that Maleficent helped shape the Regina we have now.
In the present, Maleficent decides that to prove herself Regina needs to kidnap Pinocchio. They want to torture him to get him to remember what he knew when he was August. They firmly believe he has the answer to who the author is and how the storybook works.
We see that Regina is not going to backslide easily. She initially balks at the idea of taking the boy and hurting him. She tries to get out it but is unsuccessful. She then makes it her mission to protect Pinocchio from any major harm. She knows she has to play her role but she is not going to hurt someone to do that. The good in Regina is strong.
The only part that is a bit worrying about her plan is that she ditches Emma. Emma was following her and watching just in case Regina ended up in a situation she couldn’t get herself out of. She tells Emma, “I got this.” This is a very confident statement and has me a bit worried.
Regina is like a drug addict or an alcoholic. To recover from addiction one of the main things addicts are supposed to do is stay away from what they were addicted to for a while. They have to get over the initial addiction before they can have that temptation around them again. They have to gain strength against what hurt them. Regina has come a very long way but I am not sure that she has come far enough for what this spying situation needs. Doing this alone without anyone watching her just seems to be spell bad news to me. She needs someone there to pull her back if she breaks down. We saw her freak out on Pinocchio and it showed us that the woman who used anger and power to get what she wanted is not completely buried yet. I just hope this situation doesn’t go on too long and relapse her.
Regina learns at the end of the episode that Rumple is back in town. She realizes quickly that this changes a lot of what she believe is going on. She is going to have to get out somehow and pass that information on soon before things start unraveling.
Rumple had a small part in this episode and in those few scenes he has basically destroyed any chances he ever had with Belle. Rumple took on Hooks appearance and convinced Belle to give him the dagger. Rumple is now in possession of the dagger again and now no one can stop him. We know he will never give up that dagger again.
Belle will find out what Rumple has done and there is no way she will ever trust him again. If Rumple had any hope in getting her back, that is gone now. One of the major issues between the two of them was that Belle could not completely trust Rumple. Rumple never told her everything and never gave her everything. He cannot walk away from the power that the dagger represents. Now that he has done this to Belle he can never get her back.
We see again that Rumple is hurt about Belle’s relationship with Will. He is crushed when she is telling him that Will makes her smile. He realizes that he has lost Belle to another man because he could never do what Will has done. He made her smile once in a while but not often. Belle was always wondering what Rumple was hiding, or what she was missing. We know Will has secrets but they are nothing compared to what Rumple hid from her. In the end we see that what is clutched in his hand, the dagger, is what means the most to him. And unless he can let that dagger go, he will never see his happy ending.
Rumple and The Queen’s want happy endings without having to lose anything in the process. They want the author to do the work that they won’t do. But a story doesn’t work if a happy ending is gotten without any work or sacrifice. That type of happy ending is hollow and leaves a reader empty and needing more.
“Don’t even know what revenge looks like,”- Rumple – Past Rumple tells this to Regina. Regina wants Snow dead at first. She thinks with Snow’s death that everything will be fine. What Regina learns is that revenge takes time and requires work, similar to true happy endings.
“Pain always makes you stronger,” – Maleficent- The villain’s thrive off pain. They like to see people hurt, it makes them happy. But pain can strengthen the heroes too. They become intent on keeping pain away. The heroes will work just as hard to prevent pain as the villains do to cause it.
“Spent so much time around heroes you forgot who you are,” – Maleficent- What Maleficent doesn’t realize is that who someone is, is complicated. You aren’t one aspect of your past, actions or personality. It is all that together. Regina knows who she is and she is going to fight tooth and nail to hold onto that person.
August is back, what does he know or remember?
Did August meet the author at one time?
How did he find out about the author?
Will it require torture to get the information to of him? Will Regina take part?
How long is Regina going to be able to stay undercover without relapsing?
When will Regina tell the others that Rumple is back?
Will Rumple try to get Belle back? Is their relationship completely destroyed?
Will we find out more about Will soon? What happened to his love?
Who is the author?
Can the author help? Will he or she help?
What are all the blank books for? Are there other books?
Where is Robin Hood?
When will Emma find out about all the secrets being kept from her?
Is Maleficent’s child dead or just lost?
How will Emma react to Snow and Charming’s lies?
Who is going to get a happy ending? Anyone?