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.
– from goodreads
It’s time for another V.E. Schwab book! I’m basically counting down the days until A Conjuring of Light comes out (I mean… not actually counting, that would involve math), so I was delighted to have something to tide me over until then. I have to admit, I’m not as enchanted with this world as I am with the Shades of Magic one, but I really like V.E. Schwab’s writing style, so it was still fun to read.
I enjoyed reading this book mainly because of the writing style. There were some moments when a turn of phrase felt very clichéd, but overall I really like V.E. Schwab’s writing because it’s very clean and cinematic. I’m not usually one of those people that has a book play out like a movie in their head, but with V.E. Schwab I always get images of the surroundings and the characters. She doesn’t embellish too much and it’s all just very smooth.
The characters in this book seem familiar, because they’re typical V.E. Schwab characters. Kate is basically Lila from Shades of Magic, which probably wouldn’t have worked as well for me if Lila hadn’t grown on me before I got to know Kate. Kate basically just wants to prove herself to her father and does all sorts of stupid things to do it, but she gets some character development, so I’m curious to see how she’ll fare in the next book. She’s definitely the more savage of the main characters. Also, she has literally no friends, and I’m always suspicious if a character seems to have absolutely no relevant ties before they meet the other characters. I mean it explains why she has such a stabby personality, but it’s still a bit weird, that there’s absolutely no one she has contact with.
August on the other hand is close to some of his family members and otherwise doesn’t have a lot of friends either, but he’s been alive for like two minutes, so it makes more sense. He’s a monster, but you almost wouldn’t believe it. He’s trying very hard to be a decent person, which is why I liked him. I also had to tip my (imaginary) hat at V.E. Schwab because she introduces August as the genuinely nice person he is and TELLS us ALL ALONG that he’s a monster, but then she SHOWS us, and it’s a bit disconcerting because you have to get used to the fact that August, despite his all around awesomeness, really is a monster. Then, two minutes later, he saves a kitten. So, you know, it’s a rollercoaster of death and kittens, basically.
Death and Kittens sounds like a cool band name.
I did have some issues with the book too. I think the world could have been explored more. We basically stay in V-City for all the book, and it makes sense within the plot, but even so it doesn’t mean we can’t at least hear (or read, I guess) about the rest of the world. The setup for book two promises some travelling though, so I’m optimistic on that front.
I also struggled a little with the plot – not because it’s bad, it’s tight and there’s enough suspense to keep you going, but I was just left wishing for a little more. Kate and August just run from monsters all day long and then there’s all the stuff with their parents being at war with each other and someone plotting to have them killed, but all of that, again, just means they’re running for all of the book. I’m pretty sure I’ve criticized this in other V.E. Schwab books, so maybe it’s a thing of hers? I’d just like the characters to stay in one place for a while, because ‘running away from something’ isn’t a phenomenal plot.
Overall, I liked reading this book despite the issues I had, so four cupcakes it is!