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Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – Spoiler Free Review

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – Spoiler Free Review
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Book Name: Our Dark Duet
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher(s): Greenwillow Books (US) Titan Books (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
Release Date: June 13, 2017

Victoria Schwab (a.k.a. V. E. Schwab) is a force in the young adult fantasy genre. After her A Darker Shade of Magic series launched a major fan club with cultish devotion, it’s no surprise that Our Dark Duet, the sequel to This Savage Song, ended up on 2017’s Favorite Fantasy Books List.

(Because Our Dark Duet is one of my favorite books ever, and it’s a sequel, I’ll be discussing both This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet in this spoiler-free review.)

Both This Savage Song and Our Dark Duet take place in the city of Verity, an urban complex overrun with monsters. When I think of monsters, I think of the things that hide under beds or bridges, or creatures in Pirates of the Caribbean. When Victoria Schwab thinks of monsters, she clearly has a much darker vision.

In Verity, the monsters are almost people, and they’re borne of people. More specifically, they’re borne of crimes, and they take the visage of the person committing the crime.

First, the Corsai, borne of violent but non-lethal crimes. Then, the Malchai, borne of murder. And last, the Sunai. A rare breed borne of large scale violence, like bombings.

Monsters, monsters, big and small,
They’re gonna come and eat you all.

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!

The Corsai and Malchai feed on blood and flesh, while the Sunai feed on souls, which they harvest by playing music. In Verity, Corsai and Malchai run rampant, hiding in every dark corner and threatening to take over.

For humans, two groups have emerged to solve the monster problem. On one side is Harker, a man who makes deals with monsters and collects tribute from the innocent to maintain his power. On the other is Flynn, a military man who runs missions into the city to eliminate any and all monsters.

But these amazing details are simply the setting. The story itself is really about Kate and August.
Kate is really Kate Harker, the daughter of the violent ruler of half of Verity. She’s his only daughter and reasonably stands to inherit his empire. She’s been tossed out of a dozen private schools and now, none will take her. The school in Verity is her last chance at a future—and proving her worth to her father.

If she’d learned anything from her father, it was that composure was control. Even if it was just an illusion.

The other main character is August, August Flynn. He’s the middle child adopted by the Flynns. And he’s a Sunai. His older brother Leo loves to kill, and his little sister Ilsa rarely uses her voice to gather souls. But August is trapped. He loves music, loves it so very much, but simply can’t stand the idea of absorbing a stained soul into himself.

It was a cruel trick of the universe, thought August, that he only felt human after doing something monstrous.

In This Savage Song, we are introduced to the world of Verity and see Kate and August form a friendship based on mutual trust and need.

Everyone was made of sounds, and August had learned hers the first day they met.

In Our Dark Duet, we see the pair reunited to fight a new monster, one no one’s ever seen before. And this monster is different. It feeds on chaos and releases the inner demons of those it controls. One moment of exposure creates a chain reaction that can’t be stopped.

There’s no other way to say this. These books are special. Break it down into parts, and each unique. A monster-hunting Kate befriending the monster August is a wild ride of action and blood and results in a one-of-a-kind friendship. A city divided by two factions and overrun with monsters. A population whose every crime breeds more of them.

But this series is more than the sum of its parts. Schwab’s writing is lyrical and lovely, and there’s a poetic element that seizes the reader and won’t let go. Every word is a delicious delight. Every line contributes to voice and imagery and story.

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. An aftermath. A recoil. A reaction to all that anger and pain and death.

Readers who pick up this series looking for four Londons or magic coats or black eyes will be sorely disappointed, because these books are different from anything you’ve ever read, including the rest of Schwab’s catalog. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Absolute perfection.

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