First of all, this is the sequel to This Savage Song, so read that first.
It continues to follow Kate Harker and August Flynn, but now get a closer look into Sloan. Kate is the daughter of man who ran one half of the city through fear by offering safety from the monsters he had in his pocket. August is a Sunai- he can control anyone with a simple song on his violin while Sloan is a Malchai- essentially a vampire. The city is in the midst of a civil war and has been locked in a stalemate for months, until a personified darkness roles in- the type of monster monsters fear. Can Verity City be saved from the cesspool of violence and fear or will it be swallowed by a new level of chaos?
“For the majority of his life, he’d thought of people as either good or bad, clean or stained- the separation stark, the lines drawn in black and white- but the last six months had shown him multitudes of grays.”
I really liked the moral question that this book posed: Can people do bad things without being bad themselves? And, if so, where do you draw the line? How far can you go with good intentions? August, in particular, battles with the humanity of it all which impacts the real world and not just this monstrous one.
Now on the actual writing of the book, I thought it was well written overall especially in pacing and development of the main characters. However, the side characters, especially those not featured in the first book felt very functional (the techie, the comic relief, the support system, the innocent). There was also a ton of new characters in the first few chapters making it even harder to get to know the personalities they did have. I could have done with less named characters that the reader could form more of a bond with. The narrator focuses on more than one character, but it’s not a forced structure like some books. It’s not set up as alternating chapters following the characters, but rather follows the character with the most interesting part of the story, so you’re not getting mid story cliffhangers for any one character(…except for maybe one big one). I thought the vague POV really helped keep the pacing of the novel and didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to skip ahead to read the next chapter for that specific character (not that I would ever do that…). Poetry was also used to show the new monsters POV, but it was the kind of poetry where you just hit enter after every word. I think it would have been just as effective to continue using prose but adopt a slightly different style.
I really liked this duology in that it didn’t stay within the lines of the typical monster novel with the whole vampires-can’t-eat-garlic-and-they’re-afraid-of-the-sun thing which made the new brand of monsters frightening instead of a romantic lead. The characterization of the mains was great, but a little lacking in the extras.
What did you guys think of OUR DARK DUET?