The city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.
As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.
A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.
Kate had no pretensions – she knew her father was a bad man – but this city didn’t need a good one. Good and bad were weak words. Monsters didn’t care about intentions or ideals.
One thing that consistently amazes me about Victoria Schwab’s work is how startlingly original it is. She just manages to find a fresh take on many overdone concepts, and it’s a treat for her readers. Another fairly familiar, and welcome element of the author’s work is the presence of morally grey, ethically dubious characters, and the examination of the darkness in human nature.
But the teacher had been right about one thing: violence breeds. Someone pulls a trigger, sets off a bomb, drives a bus full of tourists off a bridge, and what’s left in the wake isn’t just shell casings, wreckage, bodies. There’s something else. Something bad. A recoil. A reaction to all that anger and pain and death. An aftermath.
I will admit that it took me a few chapters to get into this book – Kate’s chapters in particular present her as a rather bratty specimen, but she soon grew on me – and once our two protagonists met, I was hooked, waiting to see how this Romeo-and-Juliet saga would play out. Kate’s character development in particular was interesting to witness, as she comes to terms with the forces that have shaped her. And August? August is a precious cinnamon roll.
It can be hard to grasp the intricacies of the world that Kate and August inhabit – at least initially – but again, the author fills in the gaps as we go along to satisfy the reader’s curiosity. There’s a pervasive sense of darkness – supported by the presence of bloodthirsty creatures, human greed and sheer nastiness.
But it’s not all monsters and murder – there are moments of humour and banter, of positive family relationships, of goodness, yes, and the endless, enduring struggle to hold on to one’s sense of what it means to be human.
This is a well-written, incredibly unique, highly entertaining YA urban fantasy.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.