Read a full summary of This Savage Song, the first book in the Monsters of Verity series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware! If you are looking for a spoiler-free review, check our rapid review of This Savage Song. If you are wondering what happened in This Savage Song, then you are in the right place!
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4.14 stars on Goodreads
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Point of View
This book is written in third person from Kate’s and August’s points of view.
It is set in a fictional district called Verity in a future, dystopian USA.
***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in This Savage Song?
Kate sets fire to a building at her Catholic boarding school, her sixth school in five years. Her dad calls to ask her why. She says she wants to come home.
August is a monster, a manifestation of the evil in the world, yet he isn’t evil. He just appeared one day at a middle school and was adopted into a family with two other Sunai children. They can kill sinners with their music.
August sneaks his way through a tunnel to the north side of the wall to an apartment of a family friend Paris to go to school. Kate and August are both on their way to Colton Academy, Kate in her dad’s car and August on the subway.
At school, August “Freddy” is asked to stand along with all the new kids. He sees the mayor’s daughter, Kate Harker, among them. A ripple goes through the crowd when she stands. He’s supposed to keep an eye on her but not too close.
August sneaks out during study hall to try to take his photo for his student ID card. He couldn’t do it when the ID office was open because his eyes don’t photograph right.
August is invited to lunch by the friendly Colin, a boy he met in the hallway. While he’s not hungry for food, the other hunger hits him near the end of lunch. August says he needs to get a little fresh air. Kate comes up behind him. The two meet.
When the truce was called and the city was divided, those on Flynn’s side lived in fear. Those on Harker’s side could live in relative peace and safety if they had enough money to keep him on retainer. The Harker mansion was built by all the money her dad has made fighting monsters and keeping everyone safe. One of her father’s cronies, Sloan, a Malchai, is there. Kate suspects he’s a spawn of something her father did.
August’s ride home is tough. His aura is unintentionally reaching out to those around him on the subway. He isn’t feeling well, kind of feverish, and takes a cold shower to try to rid himself of it. His parents question him at dinner. He gets frustrated with their lack of trust in his abilities.
August goes on a mission with his brother and a couple other guys. He enters the apartment of their target alone. When the man sees him, he runs. August plays his violin. The man’s footsteps slow and return to him. When August touches him, his soul leaves him and enters August. August feels much better. The man slumps to the ground.
Kate descends into the rotten core of the apartment, where her father holds court. The first case is a man who’s behind on his payments for Harker’s protection. Harker rips off his medallion, which symbolizes his protection, and gives the man a head start before the monster chases him. The next case is a monster who killed an innocent family living under Harker’s protection. Kate steps from the shadows and asks to carry out the punishment. Her father allows it. She kills the monster with a long blade.
Kate and August have history class together. The teacher lectures about the fall of the USA 40 years ago, the separation of states into 10 independent territories, and the migration to the territory capitals. Kate slowly draws a picture of a monster on August’s map each time the teacher turns to write on the board.
The teacher gets it all wrong in self-defense class. Kate ends up fighting him and breaking his collarbone. The school counselor offers her some anti-anxiety medicine. She takes them in the hopes they won’t tell her father. She heads outside for some fresh air.
August is out there. She sits by him. They talk about what brought each of them to Colton. Kate doesn’t seem to be compelled to confess like everyone else does when they get close to him. She notices the tally marks on his arm. He says they’re for every day he goes without. She asks what his poison is. He says life. Kate notices his violin and comments on it. Kate asks him to play for her sometime. He refuses. She sees it as a challenge and says someday she’ll get him to.
At home, Kate checks online for any sign of August, whether in school records or on social media. Besides his weird student profile picture from school, she cannot find him anywhere. Kate then checks her father’s online files of clients and then his books of those he protects. She cannot find Freddy anywhere. She’s determined to figure out what Freddy is hiding.
An FTF agent was injured in an attack on the border. August thinks about how Harker’s men focus on killing monsters. But they kill sinners to try to stop the flow of monsters. Leo isn’t sure it’s enough. After two minutes alone with Leo, the perpetrator who hurt the agent confesses. Leo and August watch their sister Ilsa end his life. August kills by violin. Leo uses a variety of things. But Ilsa does so with her voice.
Ilsa has over 2,000 marks since the last time she went dark. Everybody thought Flynn had a bomb that created the Barren. It was Ilsa. August is amazed she had the power to take out a city block. Leo says her confinement was part of the truce. August thinks about what a relief and release it is when they make their kills.
Kate skips gym class again and finds August at bleachers once again. He says he’s never been in a forest and leads her toward the trees. They learn a little about each other’s families, but Kate doesn’t want to press too hard yet. She likes how he asks her questions in return even though everyone knows her life story.
Kate asks a kid coming out of orchestra if Freddy Gallagher is in there with him. The kid doesn’t know who he is. Kate questions August further about playing. He admits he can’t play at home because the walls are too thin, so he plays in the soundproof room some days. Kate is furious when he once again says he’ll never play for her even though he knows she’s used to getting whatever she wants. She says she knows he’s not who he says he is and she’s going to figure it out.
Kate sees August with Colin and a few friends. A girl is taking pictures. August is always looking away from the camera, just like in his student ID photo. Kate snaps pictures of him with her phone. She scrolls through the shots and can hardly believe it’s true. His eyes are a smudge of black. He’s a monster.
Kate ponders what she knows about Sunai. None of it is good. It’s all vague. The most well-known Sunai is a boy named Leo. Kate pulls up her dad’s files on him. She watches video of Leo playing music in a bar to kill a couple of the patrons. A second video shows Leo killing people with his bare hands.
Sloan comes in. She asks him what he knows about Sunai. Sloan knows there are three. He shows her the scars he has on his chest from the fight he had when he met Leo. The second Sunai is the one who made the Barren. Not much is known about the third. Kate could tell her father about Freddy. She decides to bring her father Freddy instead.
Leo takes August to kill two men who have murdered six people in gang violence. He wants them to do it with their hands and knives instead of with music. August is appalled but ends up having to kill the second perpetrator when he attacks him.
August cannot sleep because of the events of the evening. He notices Ilsa’s bedroom door slightly ajar. Ilsa tells August things are breaking. She’s not sure if the cracks are in society or in her and doesn’t want to go dark again.
Kate’s car is parked out in front of Paris’s house when August walks out. She offers to give them a ride to school. He hesitates but then gets in. She’s acting strange. He calls Henry. Leo answers the phone. He tells him he thinks Kate knows who he is. Leo thinks he might be overreacting.
The school day progresses normally, so August starts to think he was overreacting. He goes to the soundproof room after school.
Kate told her driver she had an appointment with the counselor after school. He’s coming later to get her. She knew August was staying after and wanted to leave when he did. But the driver doesn’t show. Kate goes to the subway station to ride it home, but the doors are locked. She calls a cab.
When August finishes his music, the music room door is locked. The electronic pad outside the room has been destroyed. His cell phone won’t work. He escapes through a ceiling tile and hears a scream outside. Kate is being attacked by two Malchai. They work together to kill the two monsters.
August has never killed a monster before, only human sinners. He begins retching up black and eventually passes out. When he wakes up, Kate is there. They’re at a vacant building near a safe house of her father’s. August is tied up with metal. The cabbie is there and is unconscious.
Kate questions August, who reveals his real name. He admits he was at school to watch but not harm her. August thinks this was a set up to make it look like he killed her to break the truce. Her phone rings. He begs her not to answer it.
Kate thinks Sloan is the one who started this. She admits she figured out who August was yesterday. But she didn’t turn him in because he doesn’t seem like a monster. They hear footsteps and realize they have been tracked by the GPS in the cabbie’s phone, the only one she didn’t remove. August grabs his violin. They head out the window.
Kate knows where the cameras are scattered throughout the city, so they avoid them. She jumps someone in a diner restroom to get a new set of clothes and cell phone. August calls home. Leo is acting suspicious. He tells him he has Kate but hangs up before he answers where they are. Kate texts her dad in code.
Malchai storm the restaurant. Kate and August escape through the kitchen. They have to go where the Malchai cannot go, which is below ground where the Corsai are. August plays his violin to keep them safe. The music appeals to Kate but can’t hurt her because she’s never committed any crimes. August plays the whole time they walk through the subway tunnels. His strings break one by one. Then the Corsai are there to attack. August throws his arms around Kate to protect her since they can’t hurt him. They escape into a subway car.
Kate asks about why he can’t hurt her and what his tallies mean. He tells her the truth. She doesn’t understand because she feels like she has done bad things before. August tells her about going dark/falling and how it’s happened twice. He would rather die than have it happen again.
The subway restarts when the power comes on. They exit near a pharmacy because Kate’s injured. August gets the supplies he needs to stitch her up. Under the numbing medicine, Kate relives the night of the car accident that killed her mother. She sees red eyes in the memory but comes back to her senses before she can see what they meant.
While August is getting food from the vending machine, the cell phone finally rings. It’s Harker. Kate says she’s alone and won’t tell him where she is. He asks if she remembers the coordinates to escape to. She does.
Ilsa is there when August awakes. She says Malchai are coming. She wakes Kate and tells the two of them to go. She’ll stay back and fight.
A Malchai and a human, each with the H’s scraped off their faces, attack. They fight them, then steal a car, and then drive out of the city and into the Waste. The car runs out of gas. They argue. August seems to be sick. His skin is hot. He says he’s fine. A semi pulls up. The driver will give them a ride to the next truck stop, Horizon.
August goes to the restroom. He’s trying to fight the hunger that continues to build. Kate steals a watch which uses coordinates. A news story comes on TV about Kate possibly being abducted by a Flynn. She texts her dad. He calls and asks if August is with her. Harker questioned Sloan, who says he’s innocent. He can’t lie. Kate’s confused. He tells her to stay out of the city until he figures this out.
Four people in the truck stop recognize them and chase them outside. August’s head is swimming, but he tries to change their emotions. They narrowly escape out of Horizon’s gate and run deep into a field. No one follows them.
They walk to the home that Kate used to share with her mother. August seems to be feeling better for a bit. Then the fever and hunger return worse than ever. He makes Kate promise not to let him fall again.
August soaks in the tub trying to cool off. Kate goes in to check on him. Her hand is burned from where she touches his skin because he’s so hot. Kate looks for clean clothes, finally going to her mother’s room, which is hard. She tries the car. It still runs.
Kate turns on the TV and sees her face is still plastered everywhere. She turns it off and hears a car pulling up. It’s one of Sloan’s men, a human. Kate shoots and kills him. August hears and gets out of the tub. He’s about to go dark and tells Kate to run. He can hurt her now because she’s killed someone. Another car pulls up. It’s Sloan and another Malchai. August and Kate are captured and wake up in separate rooms in a warehouse.
Sloan questions August. He wants him to go dark because it makes him vulnerable. Then he can kill him just like he killed Ilsa.
Kate is handcuffed to a pipe in a room. She uses the medallion on her necklace to work the screws loose. Someone’s at the door just as she breaks free. She hides in the shadows. The door opens. It’s one of Sloan’s cronies. He’s killed just before he walks in the room. Kate didn’t see who did it.
It was Leo, who she now sees is with August. Leo killed Sloan, who is lying dead nearby. Leo doesn’t think Henry is doing what needs to be done, so he partnered with Sloan on his own. Both cities–north and south–need them to stop the violence and poison. He wants to cleanse the world. But Sloan wasn’t supposed to kill Ilsa.
Kate moves slightly and catches August’s eye. Leo turns to see where he’s looking. He pulls out a flute. August tells her to run and tackles Leo. Leo bests him and begins to play music. It calls Kate back. She begins to confess. Her soul rises to the surface. He commands August to kill her. August can’t fight it anymore; he goes dark. He completely changes form to a dark, smoke-like creature with horns and wings and edges like fire. August comes toward Kate but then turns on Leo at the last minute and kills him.
He transforms back to his August form, this time with no lines on his skin. They have reset once again. Kate’s afraid he won’t recognize her, but then he asks if she’s okay. His hunger is gone for now. He feels somewhat the same but feels like a little something’s missing.
They go back to Kate’s mom’s house. They are headed different places using the two cars there. August will head to V-City to see Henry and help his family with the fight. Kate will head there first and needs August’s help, but then she’s leaving.
Kate questions her father and wants August there to see if he’s telling the truth. She discovers it was his idea to break the truce. Sloan just helped him. And it was his idea for Sloan to cause the accident that killed her mother Alice. He loved her, but she was a liability when she wasn’t brave enough to fight. Kate pulls a gun and shoots him in the shoulder and the knee. August steps in front of her before she makes the kill shot. He doesn’t want her to bear that crime. He makes her leave. Then he takes her father’s soul.
How did This Savage Song end?
August goes home and tells his parents the truth about everything that’s happened. He discovers Ilsa somehow survived, although her throat was cut and she can no longer sing. He’s the only Sunai left to fight sinners.
Kate drives, not sure where she’s going. When she gets to the border, she presents papers with her mother’s maiden name and says she’s headed to school. She hears a news report on the radio about a frightening new chapter in Prosperity.
August prepares for his first day back with the FTF. His parents present him with a new metal violin to replace his old one, which was broken in the fight. Things are spiraling out of control in their community. His skills are desperately needed. He’s ready to begin the fight.
A new monster is born at Kate’s mom’s old house. She looks like Kate’s mom. The monster walks to the warehouse in the city. She pulls the bar from Sloan’s heart. He rises. She says her name is Alice.
There you go! That’s what happened in This Savage Song. Book two is called Our Dark Duet.
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