If you are familiar with Victoria Schwab’s work, you would know that she’s an incredibly masterful writer, regardless of the genre she writes in.

Schwab is the bestselling author of the young adult (YA) fantasy series Archived and Shades Of Magic (as V.E. Schwab).

This Savage Song (2016), the first book in Schwab’s new YA fantasy duology, Monsters Of Verity, focuses on a world where humans and monsters exist in the distant future.

I was quite impressed with This Savage Song when I read it because Schwab introduces a fascinating post-apocalyptic world where monsters roam among humans living in the city of Verity, which is still recovering from the destruction of war.

Told from dual perspectives, This Savage Song explores the idea of a human girl who aspires to be notoriously monstrous to prove her worth to her ruthless father and a Sunai (one of the three kinds of monsters in Verity that feeds on the darkness of human souls) boy who is desperate to be anything but a monster.

Our Dark Duet is the conclusion to the duology with the events beginning six months after the ending of This Savage Song.

We find Kate Harker, the female protagonist, in neighbouring city Prosperity, where she works with a group known as the Wardens, battling monsters and doing the whole renegade thing that she began in Song. However hard she fights these monsters, though, she can’t get rid of her inner demons and the loneliness she feels hidden behind her bravado.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria SchwabOn the other side, August Flynn is no longer the optimistic monster who pines to be human from Song. A lot has changed since he and Kate parted ways. He currently holds a position among the ranks of the FTF, a movement founded by August’s father that aims to defend Verity from the monsters that lurk in the city’s darkest depths.

What I liked about the first book was that the obligatory YA fiction romance didn’t take centre stage – so refreshing in a YA novel!

Instead, Schwab takes the platonic friendship in the first book and develops it into something more meaningful than an insta-love relationship between the protagonists.

Our Dark Duet begins rather too slowly for my liking but things do pick up with the appearance of a new monster. This time, it’s one that threatens the existence of humanity and could possibly change the entire course of the war between humans and monsters.

Chaos and madness ensue in the conclusion of this duology, and it is quite evident that Schwab has a surprising twist up her sleeve, as she is known for. If you’ve read her other books like I have, you’ll saddle up and try to enjoy the ride!

The haunting and eerie world she builds in Our Dark Duet is sublime and well-written. She paints a picture of a city filled with darkness, a place where humanity is engulfed in a shroud of despair.

The narrative is evocative, perfectly capturing the characters’ nuances of thoughts. The alternating focus on Kate, August, and Sloan adds more depth to the story and makes the flow of the plot more cohesive. And Schwab’s style fits the dark tone and setting of the story.

Schwab is excellent at writing endings judging from her other books I’ve read, and the ending of Our Dark Duet – the conclusion of the duology as a whole – is impactful and, personally, I how she wraps things up.

A clear winner, this duology, especially Our Dark Duet. I was enamoured by the writing and world-building, and the action scenes are on point: brutal, vivid, bordering on gory.

After the slow start, the pace picks up and I was completely immersed in the story when things started falling into place. The second half of the book is explosive, and I do not use that term lightly here. It is intense and just so well done.

Our Dark Duet

Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins, YA fantasy