[Review] Carnival of Souls

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Title: Carnival of Souls
Series: Carnival of Souls #1
Author: Melissa Marr
Format: Harcover, 306 pages
Genre:  YA, Fantasy
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Published by: HarperTeen, HarperCollins Canada

Source: ARC received from Publisher for honest review

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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.

My Thoughts

Melissa Marr’s newest novel Carnival of Souls delves deep into the fantastical world of The City, where daimons and witches coexists, and where power is determined by strength and resilience. Like many countries around the world, The City has its elite, and it is through The Carnival of Souls that the underprivileged are allowed to get the chance to join this group of royals. The Carnival of Souls allows for residence at the bottom of the food chain a beacon of hope in order to escape the dirty “black mask” work, which involves fighting and killing, in order to survive. 

Throughout the novel we follow multiple characters told in the first person perspective. We meet Aya, who is desperately trying to escape the female conventions that are thrown upon her, such as marriage and breeding. Then we meet Kaleb, a lower class daimon who can shift forms at will and has a need to create a pack with anyone he trusts. And then we meet Mallory, a teenage girl who lives in the human world and is trained to fight daimons by a witch. All of these characters are unique and memorable, they are surrounded by secondary characters that make this story stand out among the masses. 

Of all of Melissa Marr’s novels, this one is by far my favorite. In Carnival of Souls, Marr has the ability to interweave storylines and create a very complex, dark fantasy. She has the ability to communicate the politics between daimons and witches extremely well, and is able to directly compare the human world with The City, which was very nice to see. One might think that having multiple characters’ point of view might get confusing and taxing the longer you read, but that is not the case here. I thought that the multiple viewpoints added a lot of character and dimension to an already complex storyline. It also blew me away how some of these characters intersected at certain points in the novel, and I thought that was done exceptionally well. 
I especially loved the subtle romances that emerged throughout the book, I love a good love story, and this book did not disappoint. I am not saying that it was the best romance I have ever read, but it was satisfying to read. It will be very interesting to see where these relationships go in the books to come, especially concerning Aya’s character. Aya’s point of view was my favorite to read, not just because she was an amazing fighter, and the scenes were very well written, but also because of the way her character presented herself. She was strong and independent young woman that wanted to stop at nothing to gain the freedom she thought was rightfully hers. 

Carnival of Souls’ fight scenes were very gruesome and disturbing at times and I thought they added a very good contrast to the human world. Marr’s descriptive details draw you in and make you feel every punch and see the blood spilled on the floor. Melissa Marr had created a world like no other and it will draw you in from the first page to the last! It was a great read!

3.5/5 Stars!


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  1. This sounds like a really exciting and creepy reads. I've never read a Melissa Marr YA novel before but I think I would like to start with this one.