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I Belong

Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

TitleCarnival of Souls

Author: Melissa Marr

Genre: YA Fantasy

Series: Carnival of Souls (Book 1)

Publication Date: September 4, 2012

Format: Hardcover, 306 Pages

ISBN-10: 0061659282 (Harper Teen)

ISBN-13: 978-0061659287 (Harper Teen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


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.

Quick & Dirty: A multi-POV story that delivers a fantastic world that only Melissa Marr can, but in which I felt disengaged in several scenes.

Opening Sentence: The man – witch – who’d summoned Selah was nothing like what she’d expected.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I’m a huge fan of Melissa Marr. So when I was given an opportunity to read Carnival of Souls, I was beyond excited. The cover was intriguing and the synopsis engaging. Carnival of Souls seduces the reader’s mind, and Marr paints a wonderful world. In her latest work of art, Marr stays true to her world building reputation, creating a world unlike any other. Magic and secrets, elites and lower caste, and most importantly dangers that lurk every corner fill the pages of this wonderful story.

There is hierarchy within The City, surrounded by magic from daimons and witches.  In the human world, there is little of The City that the humans know. For Mallory, living in the human world is only a safe haven, a protection from the dangerous of The City and the daimons. She has been protected all her life, hidden safely in the human world from the evils that cross the boundaries. Mallory’s adopted father, Adam has ensured her safety, moving them from city to city and teaching her as much self defense as one could imagine. Adam has taken something from the daimons a long time ago, and as of late, they have been determined to get it back. Mallory has rules to live by, which she has always followed, until the enigmatic Kaleb steps into the picture. He knows more than he lets on, but could it put Mallory in danger?

Mallory has been hidden all of her life. She has always been kept in the dark from the world that she truly belongs in and in the one that she has adopted. Mallory has always been dutiful, only asking questions when a boy comes into the picture. In the beginning, I was all about knowing every single thing about her, until I was introduced to the other characters. Afterwards, I felt like Mallory blended into the background, and I no longer had any interest in her.

Aya is a daimon born into the privileged ruling class. She has become a warrior in The City, fighting for her position to rule on her own, without a husband to rule her. Aya is determined to win the competition in order to change rule as her own and in turn changing the ways of her world. The culture in which Aya was raised in fuels the fire inside her. I found Aya to be a strong woman, strong enough to even do the unthinkable. She has secrets herself, ones that I found the most intriguing out of all the main characters. I was deeply connected to her and I felt that her concerns spoke loudly than the others.

Kaleb is the lowest caste in The City, a cur, fighting for respect. He enters the competition to champion a better life for himself and his packmate. He was written for hardship and determination, fighting his way to be heard and respected. I valued that a lot, and Marr wrote him in a fantastic way. His interactions with the different characters was fun, and it allowed me to see the different sides of him. I had mixed feelings about Kaleb, but he eventually won me over. I felt like he had the most complex story out of the other characters.

Written in a multi-point-of-view style, Mallory, Aya, and Kaleb told the story of The Carnival of Souls. With each thought and scenario, I was able to understand how each person connected with each other. I was able to understand the secrets that lied deep within the story. Marr’s story is sinister in every way possible. So many lies and secrets throughout the book, and as a reader, I enjoyed uncovering every single one. I felt that the different point-of-views took away from the story, and at times I felt myself disconnected to what was happening to the characters. I felt like I disengaged several times, and felt lost in others. I wanted more in one main story, more than a generalization of three stories.

Carnival of Souls took many risks, some that I haven’t seen from Marr. Marr wrote violence with an art that took away from it’s cruelty, and mixed them with wonderful characters. The culture and heritage within The City was fantastic, and the magic established. While I felt there were a few shortcomings, I enjoyed Carnival of Souls overall. I must warn you, I didn’t like the ending at all, but you’ll have to read it to find out why.

Notable Scene:

No mercy.

He didn’t like to inflict injury for point count before killing his opponent. He was decisive, but not cruel. If a fight started, it ended with a kill, but he didn’t torture. Until a match began, a forfeit was a solid win: it meant that he’d succeeded in winning without needing to take the field. Midmatch, accepting a forfeit was a sign of weak nerves, of an inability to do the job thoroughly. Kaleb kept to those rules, but he didn’t enjoy engaging in blood sport for the purposes of getting a kill-plus.

Now, as a result of Aya’s play, he would have no choice but to do so tomorrow.

FTC Advisory: HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Carnival of Souls. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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