4 out of 5 stars
I received an ARC of this work.
Victoria Schwab has come out with another wonderful gem. For those who do not know this author, she wrote an excellent series, The Archived, about a library full of souls that librarians with special powers must keep controlled, lest those souls wake up and start causing havoc. It is really cool and my sister absolutely loves it. Like that, this series has well-written characters and an incredible world.
There is a world where violent acts create monsters and a city is divided over how to deal with the influx of creatures. One side constantly fights the monsters, hoping to clear the world of evil. The other has conquered select monsters, promising safety for those who pay for it, but nothing for everyone else. Kate Harker’s father is the head of the gang who have enslaved some monsters, reaping the profit of keeping them under heel. Her greatest wish is to prove herself worthy of her father’s name and legacy. Augustus’ adopted father Fletcher has spent his life trying to wipe monsters from the face of the earth, ensuring safety for everyone, but the battle is an uphill one and his side faces heavy casualties. Augustus and his siblings are their father’s secret weapons, 3 of the most dangerous type of creature that exist. Augustus wants to help, but is deeply worried about maintaining what little humanity he feels he has.
There are 3 types of creatures in this world, the Corsair, the Malchai and the Sunai. The first two hunt by night and will either eat you whole or drain you, depending on your nature. If you have a Harker medal around your neck, they will spare you, but if you do not, there is little chance you will be able to fend them off. The Sunai look and seem human, but they can only feed on the essence of humans, and they do so by entrancing people with music, then eating their souls. Augustus is a Sunai and spends most of the book resentful of his nature. He hates having to prey on people to survive, but if he gets too hungry he will “go dark” and go on an unthinking killing spree. He tries to mediate his guilt by only feeding on criminals, but he is still being eaten by guilt.
Augustus is sent to school with Kate, on the chance that, if violence erupts, they can use her as leverage against her father. Augustus needs to befriend her, but she quickly starts to notice little signs that all point to him not being entirely human. When conflict does start and he saves her life, she must reconsider what it means to be a monster. Their relationship is sweet, and it is great that it does not immediately devolve into romance. They are friends and allies and impact each other a great deal without having to also be in a romantic relationship. It is a meaningful friendship that makes both of them change.
This novel has a great world, interesting and complex characters and really nice pacing that will keep you reading. Highly recommended.