Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Carnival of Souls
by Melissa Marr

ISBN-13: 9-780061-659287
Publication: September 2012 from HarperCollins
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it!

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.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is a breathtaking whirlwind of a ride through an amazing world full of daimons and witches and the most unique City and Carnival around.

Guys, I was completely entranced by Carnival of Souls. The world building is fantastic. The City, where the Daimons live after having kicked out all witches to the human world after a bloody war – the only witches still found in the City are slaves to Daimon masters – is crazy realistic. The descriptions of The City and Carnival of Souls (where anything is for sale and they fight to the death in a tournament) leap off the pages and really make you feel like you’re there. The Carnival showcases the brutal yet sensual aspect of the Daimons world, and it’s that more than anything that makes it so foreign and interesting. I mean, murder is basically legal and expected. Craziness.

There are three main character point of views that really give a rounded look at the caste system and dynamics of the world Melissa Marr has developed. Mallory, who, despite being kind of the main character is my least favourite, lives in the human world with her adoptive father, who’s a witch – and she’s a Daimon (but doesn’t know it). I had a hard time getting a grasp of Mallory. She’s loyal to her dad and not afraid to go after what she wants, but I feel we didn’t see enough of her to really get who she is. Kaleb is my favourite. A contender in the tournament taking place in the Carnival, Kaleb is an assassin for hire. He’s so loyal to his pack (I adore Zevi, his pack mate, or family). He’s strong, smart and goes for what he wants. Aya, the third point of view, is an intensely independent female, the only high caste female Daimon in the fights, and she is wicked. Determined, ruthless, but caring and willing to get help when needed. She also has more secrets than I can count, and those secrets – plus some secrets from Kaleb – really propel the storyline into a shocking ending.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is an action-packed journey through a strange new world, with magic, bloody fights, and some nice quiet moments that balance out the more intense periods. Each character twists their own plot line into the overall story creating glimpse into the big picture that will continue into the second book. Everything just meshes so well together, and the details blew me away. Definitely recommended for anyone looking for a unique, page turning read.

ARC received at Book Expo America from HarperCollins. Thank you!