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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

"...layered worlds...hidden secrets...veiled and not so veiled threats and horrors...it all really got to me..."
Reading Level: Young Adult
Publication Date: September 2012
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 306
Series: 1st in a series
Acquisition: I received a free ARC for review from BEA 2012

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 Goodreads)

I honestly thought I was going to love this book. And while that turned out to not be true, I'm still glad I read it.

Carnival of Souls takes place in two different worlds. The 'real' world we all inhabit and a magical world called 'The City', which is full of daimons and once upon a time, witches as well. The powerful witches now reside in our world...for the most part. And the daimons keep to The City...usually. And everyone hates each other...unless they don't.

Honestly, it was all rather confusing at first. And the characters - there are tons of them. The entire book is in third person and I'm sure there's a term for 3rd person narrative where the point of view is from a particular character but I have no idea what to call it. This POV changes from chapter to chapter and sometimes from paragraph to paragraph. A character that seemed really important in chapter 1 doesn't make an appearance again till more then halfway through the book. Another character who was given the briefest of introductions turns out to be a key player in everything that happens.

Again? A little confusing. Or maybe rather then confusing I should say complicated. Not a bad thing but still a thing. A very big thing that at times, took over the story.

And there's romance. But I hated it. It's insta love and magic and a whinny heroine who you really couldn't care less about and I found the whole thing a little distasteful.

And then there's the part that I found REALLY distasteful. It was only a very small piece of the over all story but honestly, I almost stopped reading the book because of it. It was crass and vulgar and in my opinion, had no place at all in a book that 13 year olds will be reading. And coming from me, that's pretty harsh as I believe that children should not be sheltered and they are more then smart enough to know the difference between right and wrong, fantasy and reality. In this case however, this thing that happened did nothing for the overall story and didn't seem to even have a point.

Carnival of Souls is a very dark book - and really, this is what I loved about it. The layered worlds, the hidden secrets, the veiled and not so veiled threats and horrors. It all really got to me and I'm very glad to have read it.

On the other hand, most of the characters left a sour taste in my mouth and I found it really hard to make connections with anyone. There is a lot of sex, a lot of violence and a lot of really brief glimpses behind the curtains of secrets everyone hid behind. Taken as a whole, it just wasn't for me.

The writing is spectacular but it was still hard for me to see this as a book meant for teens. I really wish it had been written for adults. I would have loved to see more grit and more horrors.

I'm a little disappointed right now but I know for sure that I'll be reading book 2. Even if the characters didn't quite mesh for me. The fantasy that Marr has created begs for more. Maybe a re-read before book 2 comes out? We'll see.

If you've read Carnival of Souls, I would love to know what you thought!

Overall Rating:
3 / 5 Stars


  1. I've heard so many mixed reviews about this one that I've not yet picked it up myself though I have had the ARC (Guilty face)I think I should pass it on.

  2. I’ve never read Marr, and while I like the sound of this book, I’m not sure if it’s quite up my street. It seems like there’s a whole lot going on and it doesn’t sound like the characters or the romantic aspect of the book would work for me.

    Might put this one on the backburner for now!

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