Following on from last year’s terrific This Savage Song comes Our Dark Duet by V.E. Schwab, one of the hottest names in fantasy fiction around today. Unfortunately for her fans, just as her Shades of Magic series has recently wrapped up, this novel brings the Monsters of Verity duology to a close. Thankfully, though, as you can expect from an author who has been compared to the likes of Neil Gaiman and Dianne Wynne Jones, Schwab sends the series off with an exciting, intellectually-engaging and emotional bang.
As the title suggests, Our Dark Duet takes the characters and the world introduced in This Savage Song and sends them down an even darker path. Taking place six months after the events of the first book, Kate Harker and August Flynn are now living different lives, in different cities. But, as the war between the humans and the monsters heats up, the duo are thrown together once again to face their demons, both inside and out.
The heart of the novel remains the terrific pair of protagonists, both of whom are layered, flawed, brave heroes. In a clever move from Schwab, the characters have swapped positions from the start of the first novel. Whereas Kate used to be the feared one, the daughter of the evil Callum Harker, now she is fighting the good fight as a vigilante monster hunter. And instead of being the young innocent he once was, August is now a formidable lieutenant in the FTF and reeling from all the blood on his hands.
The strong world-building of the first novel is also embellished and further explored. For one, events move outside of Verity into the neighbouring city of Prosperity, which allows a more thorough look at the unique blend of post-apocalyptic dystopia and urban fantasy that Schwab has concocted for this series. More importantly, the various types of monsters that inhabit this world was one of the most fascinating aspects of the last book and this is only improved in Dark Duet as a fourth creature is introduced – and it’s by far the most chilling of the lot.
There are a few sparse criticisms to be had – there are probably too many new characters introduced, for example, though a couple of additions are very memorable – but these pale when compared to the success of the overall package. Darker, scarier and more mature than This Savage Song, Our Dark Duet is another stunningly good book from Schwab, whose moreish prose, strong characterisation and engrossing ideas and themes ensure you will be reading well into the (dangerous, monster-infested) night.
OUR DARK DUET / AUTHOR: V.E. SCHWAB / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW