Carnival of Souls – Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Release Date: 4th September 2012
Edition: UK proof, review copy
Other Titles by this Author: Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, Fragile Eternity, Radiant Shadows, Darkest Mercy, Graveminder
Enter the carnival
The carnival pulsed in the centre of The City - a swirl of masked decadence and danger. Music played constantly as the dancers demonstrated their flexibility. At times it was a glamorous cacophony. Jugglers and fire-twirlers showed their skills in time to the music. In this carnival, both pleasure and murder are going 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 live.
From the author of the million-copy selling Wicked Lovely series comes this sinister tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny.
Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely books are one of my favourite series’ so my expectations for Carnival of Souls were astronomical, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t what I wanted it to be.
One of Marr’s biggest skills is her intricately built worlds and I anticipated to be swallowed up and devoured by the sights, smells, sounds and atmosphere of The City but I didn't quite connect to it in the way I wanted. Maybe it was me. Everything was there: the seductive danger, the bloody violence, a complicated hierarchical system and a sense of constant threat but I...just don't know. I didn’t really click with the novel as a whole until about halfway though actually.
I loved the mediaeval caste system of the daimons in The City and the background of the war between the witches and the daimons that resulted in witches living in the human world and daimons ruling The City. I thought that the idea behind the Carnival of Souls itself was clever and perfectly brutal for a city run by daimons and the terror that the power of the witches that instilled in them.
The only thing about Marr’s world that I didn't like was probably one of the elements that made it realistic and enabled the plot: the rules and restrictions on women. There are rules about breeding, prostitution is the norm and women aren’t allowed to roam the Carnival of Souls alone. Having such strong heroines against such a background make them even better. Aya is strong, ferocious and rather ruthless, but she has integrity and a future to ensure. I loved how she did what she needed to do and broke all of the stereotypes of daimon women and still managed to protect her many secrets...
I didn't connect to Mallory nearly as much as I did Aya. This is possibly because I didn't really expect there to be two sets of characters whose fates, relationships and families intertwined. I just expected Aya and Kaleb. As the story developed I began to realise why I maybe hadn’t got involved in her story in the way that I did with Aya’s: because she wasn’t completely herself. At the end of the novel Mallory really came into her own and I think that in the next books in the series she is going to kick some serious ass and give Aya a run for her money.
Although Carnival of Souls lacked in some places for me, I did enjoy it a lot more from the halfway point and I’m looking forward to see what unfolds in the next book.
Thank you to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of the book to review.