Reviewed by: Amber
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Mallory just wants a normal life with real friends and a maybe even a boyfriend. Sadly, moving around so often, running from daimons, and having a witch for a father pretty much destroys a chance at a social life. Mallory is not a witch, and has to train every day to protect herself against the daimons. Only Kaleb tempts her enough to consider disobeying her father.
Meanwhile, Kaleb is living in The City. He’s done anything from prostitution to assassination to survive. He’s been assigned to follow Mallory and kill her when the time is right. Fortunately, The City holds a fighting competition once every generation. The winner is placed within the government, meaning he won’t have kill Mallory, which would be useful since he can’t get her off his mind.
Aya will do anything to avoid the fate of a ruling-caste woman: bearing a child. All she wants is to better The City. The competition will give Aya enough power to change her fate. Sadly, her former betrothed Belias has entered the competition as well and unless he forfeits, she may have to kill him.
Carnival of Souls is an intricate web of lives and secrets all coming together to create a magnificent read. The situations the characters were in left a lot of room for angst, but Melissa Marr’s writing makes reading about their lives heartbreaking, rather than annoying.
The world Marr created was complex, but the information was given in such a way that it didn’t feel like it was bogging down the story. The City, which is separate from the human world and run by daimons, is gritty and almost barbaric. The happenings within made the story dark and compelling, where the citizens wander the market wearing colored masks, identifying their intents and purposes. It’s where many make their living selling pleasure and conflict resolution or scamming and pickpocketing the unwary. The City itself is just as important as any of the characters.
The characters were incredibly relatable, and even the side characters had real depth to them. It was painful to watch Mallory’s father protect her in a way that she could easily hate him for, or see Belias struggle between his love for Aya and the secret she’s been keeping from him.
The antagonist Marchosias is the ruler of The City. In a way, as brutal as he was, he didn’t really come off as evil. Many people in The City celebrate him for protecting them against the witches’ power and driving them to the human world. His actions were for the good of his people, but there was an underlying sinister tone in the way he was portrayed in the few interactions that were presented. I am dying to see where Marr goes with him in the sequel.
Carnival of Souls made my jaw drop at the cliff I’ve just been left to hang from. The ending is the kind that makes me frustrated that I don’t have a sequel in my hands right now. The story was so fast paced that I found myself shocked that I had reached the end of the book. You just know the sequel is going to explode from the very first pages.
Sexual content: Kissing, references to sex and prostitution