Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Reviewed by: Cassie
The Fairies Say: Deliciously Dark
Summary (from BN.com)
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.
From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and Graveminder, comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.
Carnival of Souls is just as it is described: decadent, full of lush secrets, and dark love. The world built is incredibly creative and new. I've never heard of or read about anything like it. Not to mention, it's quite flawlessly created. The City is a place where daimons thrive, where the daimons massacred and exiled witches, and where pleasures and death are sold in the Carnival.
The book starts out from Mallory's POV in a coffee shop, where Kaleb is introduced. All that Mallory knows is that she can't endanger Kaleb with her world. Little does she know it's quite the opposite... Soon we move onto Aya's POV, where she is prepping for her death-match with her former betrothed. Pretty complex, huh?
With the varying POVs it's hard to focus on the protagonist when there wasn't a clear one. Instead, I'll describe each main character and then the lesser ones.
First off, Mallory thinks she is human, but with an adoptive witch-dad. She trains each day for many hours on how to survive a daimon attack. She has to be compliant with her dad's wishes- in fact, we soon learn she may be magically persuaded to not contradict him. Mallory is a decently strong female character, but because of her dad's influences, we can't really tell if she's truly strong character-wise. She's a bit of a loner but likes everything any other teenage girl likes.
Kaleb is two-sided; to his enemies he is ruthless and deadly. To those rare people he cares for, he is warm-hearted and likable. He's intense and has the idea "survive by any means possible".
Aya literally has a secret that keeps her from fitting in to either world. She's a secret outcast and her reason for fighting in the death is valid and I liked her probably morally the most. She wants to help The City out of her selflessness and... yeah. She's definitely a strong female character and does what she believes in, despite the vary large repercussions. She's a feminist in a world where women are simply... lesser.
Because of the varying POVs there are two different romances going on. One between Belias and Aya (formerly betrothed) but it's not much of a romance. It's more of a bittersweet (maybe even just bitter) old love that got betrayed. I definitely want to know what happens!
The second is between Mallory and Kaleb. I'm not really sure what this is; we don't get much of how they met, flirtations, etc. They definitely have a connection but there's the problem of secrets between them. Kaleb is totally for Maleb.. Kallory? (ha, calorie) but Mallory on the other hand? She is really, really attracted to him (her words: if she had felt this way with the previous guys who had kissed her, she wouldn't be a virgin still) but she has issues with him and their situation. Hopefully, in the second book, this romance will be touched upon, too.
My only issue with the book is that a lot of things weren't described in detail. If they had, I think this would have been one of my favorites. Instead, I found myself frustrated with the varying POVs- while they were helpful to get a feeling for the story, they stopped me from getting a feel for the relationships, world, and people. Fret not, however, because the world is still very well created!
Overall I thought this was a great read with a lot of darkness and mystique about it. The City and the Carnival of Souls is not what I expected. The society they live in is not one we see much, but an interesting one nontheless. And I love the cover- I have a thing for masks (which there are a lot of in this)- and the title!
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