I have to admit, despite buying A Darker Shades of Magic and its sequel, I still haven’t read them, so this is the first V.E. Schwab novel I have read.
From the blurb:
“Kate Harker wants to be as ruthless as her father. After five years and six boarding schools, she’s finally going home to prove that she can be.
August Flynn wants to be human. But he isn’t. He’s a monster, one that can steal souls with a song. He’s one of the three most powerful monsters in a city overrun with them. His own father’s secret weapon.
Their city is divided.
Their city is crumbling.
Kate and August are the only two who see both sides, the only two who could do something.
But how do you decide to be a hero or a villain when it s hard to tell which is which?
Corsai, Corsai, tooth and claw,
Shadow and bone will eat you raw.
Malchai, Malchai, sharp and sly,
Smile and bite and drink you dry.
Sunai, Sunai, eyes like coal,
Sing you a song and steal your soul.
Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.”
It took me a few chapters you get into this book, to get the acronyms and basic facts about Verity city straight in my head, but once I did I was hooked. There isn’t a lot of exposition at the beginning of the book, you’re just dropped into this complicated post-war world.
Verity City was divided into 2 halves after a brutal war.
The story is told from the perspectives of Kate Harker and August Flynn. Kate is a budding sociopath, daughter and heir to Cal Harker who runs one half of the city. When we first meet Kate she is Burning down a school chapel. When the popular kids at school make overtures towards her she threatens them with bodily harm. She is a total bad arse.
Cal Harker controls his half of the city through fear and intimidation. Kate wants to prove to her father that she is just as tough as he is. He keeps sending her away to boarding schools outside of the city to keep her safe, she keeps getting herself kicked out of said boarding schools so that he has to bring her back to the city.
August Flynn is the son of the other Verity ruler, Henry Flynn. Henry Flynn used to be a surgeon. He seems to be a caring father to his adopted children August, Ilsa & Leo. August is a very sensitive young man, who has a thirst for knowledge, and is consumed with concepts of morality, humanity and existence.
Also, there are monsters. There was some sort of catalysing event before/during the territory wars, that meant that whenever anything awful happens like murder, bombings, mass suicide, monsters are created. Violence literally begets violence.
The two sides have an uneasy truce, which culminated in the division of the city. The two leaders have very different ways of dealing with the monsters, and both think their way is the right way. The situation is becoming increasingky tense, and Henry Flynn worries that the truce will soon collapse. Flynn asks August to go undercover at a private school on the other side to get close to Kate.
Since losing her mother at a young age, Kate had kept everyone at arms length. She is determined to prove that she can be as ruthless as her father, but is unexpectedly drawn to August.
As I said before, there isn’t a lot of explanation in the first section of the book, so it takes a while to get to grips with the world Schwab has created and the lingo used by the characters. Once it all clicks though it’s a hell of a novel. I loved it. I loved that the characters were flawed. I loved that Kate was a total biatch. I can’t wait for book two.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.