Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Daimons
Expected Publication: September 4th 2012 by HarperCollins
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 possesses 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.
This book was dark, devious and absolutely delicious! I may have really enjoyed this book, but I still have a few reservations. Nevertheless, I am beyond thrilled to have got my hands on an early copy of this! It was the kind of dark novel that I’ve been waiting for from the young-adult genre! And the cover just looks divine. Once again, it’s a book with a pretty cover and a phenomenal story line to boot!
From the very first moment this novel kicks off, we know we’re in for something special and dark. The prologue enlightens a world like no other and draws us into the realm of witches, daimons and other creatures alike.
“When he’d chosen her that unlucky day in the Carnival of Souls, she’d prayed that it was only pleasure, not breeding. Briefly, she glanced at her still-sleeping daughter. Now that she’d given birth, Selah could only pray that her child would live.”
Then we zoom forward 17 years to see Mallory as a grown up. Although her relationship with her father would never suggest her age to me as a 17 year old. He coddles her and she calls him “daddy” so once again we witness a parent/child dynamic where the child seems to behave much younger than they actually are. Nevertheless, it’s clear to witness there is a very caring nature to her father and Mallory’s best interests are always at the forefront of his actions, so I actually found it hard to dislike him. Even if he was controlling and his use of magic could be deemed unfair, I actually liked Adam, her father, as a character. And my opinion from first meeting him in the prologue to that by the end of the novel certainly adapted and changed.
“Yes, Daddy.” Mallory felt herself struggling not to say the words that pulled to her lips. There were questions she wanted to ask, but she couldn’t. Her hands tightened on the pitcher. “Daddy.”
Her father paused.
“This isn’t fair,” she forced out. “What you’re doing. It’s not fair.”
Mallory isn’t our only protagonist of the story though, since we witness follow through the footsteps of Kaleb and Aya too. I really enjoyed the three tales because they all interwove and the characters all crossed paths and because of the unique way Marr had their stories connecting, it really worked!
I feel like we’ve only brushed the surface with Mallory and that there will be much more strength and development to come from her. Whilst in Carnival of Souls she holds her own against Kaleb and attempts to with her father, she still seems a little overwhelmed and swamped by all these new things, which whilst being entirely understandable, I think it will be entertaining to watch her come into her own soon.
Kaleb was a character I struggled to understand. I really liked him when he wasn’t with Mallory and when he was caring for his pack-mate. His friendship with Zevie was unique and very endearing, but when he came across Mallory, his personality changed. I struggled to understand his actions and motives towards her at first, whilst his relationship with Zevie was very much clear cut and easy to understand, it was more complex with Mallory. The love on Kaleb’s side felt rather like insta-love, Mallory was much more reluctant to act and this prevented it from becoming something I wouldn’t like. Still, I felt like Kaleb was a little impulsive and desperate at times around Mallory.
“I don’t have a cell phone, but I can get one if you want me to.” He took her back into his arms. “I’m yours to command, Mallory.”
However, he did progress over the novel to be more normal, so it wasn’t too bad. And I appreciated Mallory not falling into his arms and going starry eyed.
For the third character, Aya that made up the three main characters of her story, she was very elusive and mysterious to begin, but I loved the unravelling of her tale and the twists and turns along the way. I found myself piecing together the plot and I felt Marr had lots of different plot vines to draw together. Aya seemed to be the person to bring everybody together and connect everyone. This is my first Marr novel, so I’m unsure whether this is her style or not, but I hope it continues because it was certainly effective!
I really liked the world we got off the human world and then the Carnival of Souls and the place where the daimons presided. I only wished, we’d learnt more about that and the portals that could connect the two worlds because it seems such a fabulous idea and Marr’s novel isn’t that long, so I think she definitely could have benefitted from extending the story a little more to build on the world. We got a little background history as we went along, but I feel like Marr needs to deliver a little more substance with a second novel to keep us equally as hooked as the first.
Marchosias had decreed, long before Kaleb was born, that the carnival would serve as the mercantile and service center of The City. It was the epicentre of The City itself. Spiralling out around the carnival were a tangle of narrow streets and old buildings that made up clearly stratified living sections. At the edges, the Untamed Lands encroached;”
Overall I felt like Marr set up what looks to be a brilliant series with Carnival of Souls and for me, I believe it can only get better from here, since Marr left a real stunner of an ending that means we can only demand more. I devoured this book in a day, so it’s certainly worth your time. I don’t know anything about her other novels, but certainly flock to buy this when it hits the shelves in September because I doubt you’ll be disappointed. Whilst I will be looking to read her other series!
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* Quotes are taken from and uncorrected proof copy and may change in the final draft.
And thanks again to The Readers Den for giving me the opportunity to win a copy of this!