Victoria Schwab's Monsters of Verity series is a stunning and unique duology, and today, I'm reviewing Our Dark Duet!
Basically, in short, I'm dead. This book killed me. What was life before this? How can I go on?
The Monsters of Verity series follows Kate Harker, heiress to an empire of blood. Her father runs half of the city of Verity and his power is entirely owed to the success of monsters. Harker made a deal with the Corsai and Malchai, the two varieties of violent monsters. Every time a violent crime is committed, it breeds a new monster. By giving the monsters freedom to hunt, Harker has become the ruler of his world. He just needs the other half of the city.
On the other side are the Flynns, who want to eradicate violence. They run militaristic missions to destroy monsters and eliminate the criminals that create them. They'll do anything to get ahead of the wave of monsters, including sending their middle son, August, across the border on a different kind of mission.
Kate and August shouldn't have anything in common. He's a monster and she's a monster killer. But somehow they find this strange kind of peace with each other. It's not really a romance, but it has all the intensity of one.
In Our Dark Duet, we follow Kate and August as they encounter a new kind of monster. It's not the straightforward violence of the Malchai or Corsai, and it isn't the musical soul-stealing Sunai. It's something else, and it sings songs in the heads of its victims, making puppets of even the strongest people.
Kate is on the hunt for Alice, the Malchai she created when she accidentally killed a man. In Verity, murder is murder, and now Kate's soul is stained. Alice is sharp and cunning (she's made from Kate, after all) and she wants to kill the person that made her.
August is a Sunai with a silver violin. He loves music but every time he plays, people die. For his older brother, Leo. Killing is easy. His little sister Isla lost her voice and can no longer sing. August has to pick up the slack.
One of my favorite elements of this story is the relationship between Kate and August. It's not romantic, at least not much. But for this romance lover to swoon over a non-romantic relationship, you know it's good! They're not super platonic friends, not close-for-life like siblings, but rather something else, something sweet and dark and necessary to both of them.
This series earns highest marks for world building, characters, and writing. The divided city with such creepily complex monsters are some of the coolest elements I've read in a long time. The characters are dynamic and interesting and the perfect balance of strong and weak. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the stunning writing.
Schwab took a vastly different approach to this series than A Darker Shade of Magic series or Vicious. It's lyrical and melodious and brilliant. I know her writing style threw several readers off this series, and that's okay. It's not for everyone. But for those who can appreciate something a little different, you'll be adding this one to the favorites shelf in no time.