Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

Carnival of SoulsCarnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
Read: January 19 – January 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover (library book), 306 pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-165-928-7

Publisher: HarperCollins, 2012

Personal read.

Book Blurb: 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.

My Opinion: Ok, so it was really slow going for me when I started reading Carnival of Souls initially. And I didn’t want to blame the book, because I felt it wasn’t the book’s fault. But in hindsight, I think it might have been.

The first half of the book was slow. There was a lot of information, and it was being presented in a very tell-don’t-show way. The daimons and the witches hate each other. Ok. But why? We never hear about the great conflict that led to this hatred. Other details that could have been so scintillating were just, passed over. Like the carnival.

For a book called Carnival of Souls, the carnival is not featured much. There is vague talk about different masks, but not what the different colours mean. We glean that black is for assassins, and white is for witches (which, if there aren’t many witches, why have a mask for them, why not make them go UNmasked?) I just really wanted the magic of the carnival to come alive and grab me. Instead I was struck repeatedly with information I already had. Very disappointing.

The characters don’t really have much depth. Aya had promise, until we learn her reasons for wanting to change the way women are viewed is pretty much entirely selfish. Mallory has spent her entire life training to come up against a daimon, and not only does she not recognize one, but she fails spectacularly when she does. And Kaleb gave me all sorts of heebie-jeebies.

The middle of the book picked up when alliances were formed and the info dump stopped for a minute. And then the last third or so of the book was just pure WTF-ery. I just couldn’t even wrap my head around the whole thing. I hated the romance between Kaleb and Mallory. Apparently no YA book is complete without that instant love connection.

I think, though, the thing that got me the most aggravated was that I was expecting this to be a stand-alone book. But no, now there will be at least one sequel, and really… is it necessary?

Bottom Line: I had such high hopes for Carnival of Souls, but they were dashed by a severe case of repeat-shit-itis, YA-insta-love, and a meandering story that skipped what could have been the greatest details.

(Cover image and book blurb courtesy of Goodreads)

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3 thoughts on “Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

    • I really wanted to like this book, especially after reading your review… but I just didn’t feel it. I felt like I was being led through the story by the hand, instead of being shown the world and left to find my own way through it. I am really glad that you enjoyed it, though. Thanks for the comment!

  1. I really enjoyed Carnival of Souls. I think it is one of the more interesting novels I’ve read this year and I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel. I listened to the audiobook rather than reading the print book. The audiobook is fantastic as it gives life to the characters. I wonder if I would have felt the same way if I’d tried the print version instead?

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