Mar 27, 2013

Review--Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

In a city of daimons, rigid class lines separate the powerful from the power-hungry. And at the heart of The City is the Carnival of Souls, where both murder and pleasure are offered up for sale. Once in a generation, the carnival hosts a deadly competition that allows every daimon a chance to join the ruling elite. Without the competition, Aya and Kaleb would both face bleak futures--if for different reasons. For each of them, fighting to the death is the only way to try to live.

All Mallory knows of The City is that her father--and every other witch there--fled it for a life in exile in the human world. Instead of a typical teenage life full of friends and maybe even a little romance, Mallory scans quiet streets for threats, hides herself away, and trains to be lethal. She knows it's only a matter of time until a daimon finds her and her father, so she readies herself for the inevitable.

While Mallory possess little knowledge of The City, every inhabitant of The City knows of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and GRAVEMINDER, comes a brand-new tale of secrets, love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.

Carnival of Souls is the first in Melissa Marr's latest YA series, and it was quite interesting. I liked her Wicked Lovely series, found it different and interesting, the world building was pretty good. Here I think it's a step better. Of course, I was faltering for a bit in the beginning, unsure of what was what and all that. For one, daimons are a kind of werewolf. Took me a bit to get that part because I was thinking they were "demons" for there was a series that indicated creatures were demons by spelling it as it is here. Also The City is really not apart of our world like I initially thought, it's in another world, another dimension.

Another thing that took getting used to was getting to know all the characters. I read previous reviews of this some months ago, so I knew what I was getting into. Although, it's still a challenge when you read from so many different points of view. It's all in third person, thankfully, but we get multiple characters telling their stories. And once I got to know each character and their voice, it became easy to read the rest of the book. The first 4 chapters though, when they each have their turn, was the mind boggling part. It just takes me a moment to get used to the storytelling when authors write like this. I don't hate this kind of writing or anything, it just takes a bit of getting used to! It can be quite fun actually, as we get to see what's going on just about everywhere.

The story itself was pretty good. It definitely has that "first book" feel to it. There's a lot to learn about this new world and its history. Such as that daimons and witches have been enemies for a long time. Witches have left The City, for the most part, and live in the human world. The daimons in The City have a strange way of living, like it's medieval times or something with a king. Although Marchosias doesn't really call himself that, more like a ruler I guess. He wasn't really involved too much in this book. He makes a few appearances and all, but I get the feeling he won't be a well liked character.

Now onto characters. Mallory is our first heroine. She was raised by Adam, a witch and they are constantly on the move for reasons she's not entirely sure of. Daimons come after them from time to time and Adam has trained Mallory to protect herself. She doesn't know a whole lot about her birth parents, although it's said that she has met her mother. There is a prologue that gives you some idea of how Mallory came to be in Adam's care, but it still left me with a few too many questions as to what's really going on.

Kaleb is a daimon of the lowest class, a cur. Yet he is an incredible fighter and has been doing well in the competition to earn a place among the ruling class. He also knows how to travel between worlds and has befriended Mallory. He was hired by someone else though to kill her, but he finds that he can no longer do that since he's developing feelings for her. In turn, he decides to change the game plan and protect her at all costs.

Aya is an oddity, I won't say more than that because when we learn what her secret is, it was kind of surprising and I don't want to spoil that. Needless to say, Aya has her own reasons for entering the competition. She wants to be in the ruling class, because she believes she can serve a better purpose by being there. In order to do that though, she must be the sole winner of the competition and kill whoever she has to, to make that happen. She turned away a proposal from Belias, because she cannot give him what he wants, and this does involve her secret again, so she basically turned him down in order to protect her secret.

Belias, we didn't get too many chapters from him which was a tad disappointing. To meet a character and then only get a few chapters of page time. But there was a reason for that, but I won't get into it. Belias was set to marry Aya, he loves her and was devastated that she turned him down. He entered the competition as well, for a way to protect her. He does what he can and I think he wouldn't mind winning it too. He's very good at the fighting.

The pace to this one was good. It was fast moving in the way that any multiple narrator book is. You get so wrapped up with one character and what's going on with them, and then you move onto another, then another. While the transitions were fairly smooth, it does take a moment to remember what was going on with a particular character, but those moments were pretty few. We'd be in Mallory's head, then it would go to Kaleb who was with Mallory at the time, so those transitions were pretty easy to follow.

The book has its good share of secrets too, and not all are reveal to all the players involved. So it's definitely going to be interesting to see where things go. Although, one rather large secret is revealed to Mallory, but we had known it from fairly early on. She was the only one who didn't seem to know. There is a bit of a cliffhanger ending, only in the sense that it ends before the characters are about to do something to further the plot. Yes, I am being vague, but I don't want to give out spoilers. Just know that this cliffhanger isn't one of the agonizing kinds. I definitely can't wait for more in this series, but the wait won't kill me like other cliffhangers have.

Overall this was a rather enjoyable read. As it is with all new series, the world building takes a bit of getting used to, but it doesn't seem as difficult as I found the Wicked Lovely series where each book had a different cast of characters. Of course it's still too soon to tell if this series will go down that path, but I wouldn't think it would do that with how it ended and all. I enjoyed the characters, they were all rather interesting and they each have their own stories and paths to carve. I see what might be enemies rising in the wake, but as I've mentioned before, it's too soon to tell with somethings. But there were quite a few interesting plot developments and oh the secrets! Looking forward to how more than a few of those get revealed! The sequel will definitely be added to my TBR pile later this year!

Overall Rating 4/5 stars


  1. This book had a huge amount of hype at BEA last year but when it came out I didn't see much about it. I'm not sure if it was something I would enjoy.

    Maybe it's one of those series that's better for me to read when the first few books are out so I can just go right to the next book.

  2. It felt like once the story started making real progress (as in identifying the may conflict and such), it ended. I'm not exactly complaining but I thought it was rather abrupt.

  3. Fabulous review, Jessica! I loved Melissa's Wicked Lovely series and I've had Carnival of Souls sitting on my shelf since it came out but I haven't read it yet. I'm looking forward to meeting her at RT. :) Hopefully I'll get this read by then. ;)

  4. I have been wanting to listen to the audiobook of this one because it's narrated by James Marsden aka Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer but, I haven't gotten to listen to it yet.

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  5. The lives of all these individuals are tied together. Very intricate and fantastic story.
    This book just set us up for the next one :) - love it!

    Grace Crawford Olympia WA Landscape Contractor Evergreen Valley Landscape


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