Publication Date: September 4th, 2012
Page Count: 306 pages
Source: San Diego Comic-Con 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.Despite having never read anything by Melissa Marr, I had really high expectations for this one. Not only was the whole blogosphere all a twitter about it, but Comic-Con did a special giveaway of only 20 coveted ARCs that people were clambering to get. After all of this build up, I finally sat down to read it and I was thoroughly let down. Not only was the plot seriously confusing for most of the story, there were several characters that just rubbed me the wrong way. Oh, hello Mallory, I didn't know you were related to Bella Swan! >_< But I digress. While I really did enjoy Carnival of Souls I feel like it was overly hyped and my high expectations were let down in more than one way.
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 Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and "Graveminder," comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one's own destiny.
The story is told from multiple perspectives that all sort of come together at one point or another. There's Aya, the badass killer who's fighting for her right to have a life outside marriage; Kaleb, the most sought after assassin in The City who's fighting his way up the social ladder; Mallory, the annoying naive and mostly clueless daughter of the most powerful man in The City who's spent her whole life in the human world; and all of the side characters who contribute to the livelihood of these three protagonists. While I loved Aya, I felt like I didn't get enough of her. She's so awesome and independent I just wanted to read a book all about Aya. The rest of the characters were alright, but most of the time I either really disliked them or I couldn't really care less about what they were doing.
The story itself is incredibly confusing to get into. I found myself having a hard time understanding what was going on and what the different words or places were. A lot of things are mentioned, but never fully explained by anyone so I was left to just figure it out on my own. Also, a lot of things were really predictable. Characters spend a lot of time hiding things that seemed obvious to me, or I'd make a guess as to what was going to happen next and then, boom!, it happened. Other things, however, really surprised me and added a lot to the plot line. It was definitely fast paced enough to keep my attention and I didn't get bored while reading it. It seemed like 50+ pages would go by and I wouldn't even realize it!
Overall Carnival of Souls was a good read, but it didn't live up the hype. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I was definitely thrown off by the amount of work I had to do to understand what was going on most of the time. A lot of the carnival elements are really fantastic, but I think I would have liked the story more if it was set strictly in The City and didn't have any contemporary elements. I loved the ideas of street vendors wearing masks to display their "goods" and I would have liked to learn more about that world. Carnival of Souls definitely takes you to an interesting place and despite its flaws I'm excited to see where things will lead next!