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About the book
Carnival of Souls is the first book in a new series by Melissa Marr. The book was released on 4th September and it is 336 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC for review.
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.
(Taken from Goodreads.com)
What I thought
The synopsis for this book is what sold it for me, along with the striking cover. When it comes to young adult paranormal books, it takes a lot now to be utterly original and that's exactly how this one sounded.
Carnival of Souls alternates between the human world and The City/ Carnival of Souls, narrating in third person. Due to the switch in locations, it made the plot really well paced. Never was a bored with reading about one thing. The amount of space given to each world was just enough at any one time for me as it broke up what was happening. There is a lot going on in each world, especially as characters like Kaleb and Aya have a lot going on around them. This way of telling the story also made it possible to get to know more characters than the one narrating the story.
Unfortunately, I didn't love Mallory, the main female character in this book. I'm sort of in two minds about her really. Now, I didn't dislike her but she wasn't quite as interesting as I thought she could have been. She does have an extremely interesting backstory but as she doesn't know anything about it herself, she came across as very normal and bland at times. However, (this is where I come to be in two minds) she can shoot a gun and has been trained to look after herself against daimons so really, she is quite kick-ass at the same time as being bland. Not sure how that works.
My favourite character of the book was Kaleb, a daimon who isn't in the best of places are far as class/ caste is concerned. As a cur, he is the lowest of the low and is now fighting to get a better place in life, even when it means fighting and killing to get there. I know this makes him sound like a bit of a low life but he isn't... at all. When Kaleb meets Mallory, there is a great spark between them and he knows they're meant to be. Normally, I would have a problem with this as I hate the love at first sight kind of thing but this was different. As a cur (which is kind of like a shifting dog type thing) he feels a connection with Mallory and thinks of her as his pack so the explanation saved the quickness for me. Anyway, deep down, he was very sweet and caring and only wanted something better for himself.
There was quite a bit more violence in this book than I had imagined there to be. That is definitely not a bad thing though. I really loved the competition and being able to read about some of the matches, even though they were pretty gory at times. The competition made Carnival of Souls very exciting and it also helped to break up the pacing of the plot. Reading about the matches also helped to be able to understand certain characters better and to see what they were really like. I do love a good bit of fighting in books and Melissa Marr definitely hit the spot with these scenes.
The world invented for this novel is pretty complex and can get quite confusing at times. I wished that some things, especially the Carnival of Souls, had been better explained. Some things made perfect sense instantly but then I found myself having to flick back a few pages to see whether or not I had missed something a couple of times. Once you get to grips with who are who and the rules of the system, it does all make pretty good sense. As the world is complex, it was so interesting to learn about. I have never read anything like this before and I can't wait to delve further into this world.
Carnival of Souls is dark, intense and damn exciting. I loved it and highly recommend it!