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Review: Carnival of Souls – Melissa Marr

September 15, 2012
Series: Carnival of Souls #1
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Published: September 4th, 2012
Links: Amazon   Book Depository



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 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.


Mallory is a girl in hiding, caught between two worlds, the witches and the daimons. These mortal enemies have fought each other for centuries, until the daimons eventually won the war and exiled the witches from their shared world to the human world. Here Mallory lives with her father Adam, who is a powerful exiled witch. But of course, the war is far from over and both sides continue to scheme and plot against each other.

Carnival of Souls was a good book and an enjoyable read but it could so easily have been great. I felt that the story had great potential but in some parts, mainly the plot and Mallory herself, the novel fell short.

I’ll start with what I liked: I loved the world, and the first class world building. The City itself was almost a character. It was complex and difficult, there were no easy options. Survival by any means necessary was the name of the game. The characters that populated this world with one notable exception were also complex. I liked that in the beginning of the story, the motivations of the characters were really ambiguous. I enjoyed the guessing and the lack of black or white characters – grey ruled the day. There were no easy solutions and all choices were difficult. I counted at least six point of view characters, but mainly the story was told from the POV of Mallory, Kaleb and Aya. Kaleb and Aya were interesting and complicated characters. I really enjoyed their chapters.

What I didn’t like was the character of Mallory. She was shallow and almost unfinished. I don’t know if this was a plot device and intentional by the author as a means to portray the affect on Mallory of her home life, so to speak. But it’s really difficult as a reader to care about such a one dimensional and superficial character, especially where she’s the focal point of the story. I had no clear grasp of who Mallory was.

I also had some issues with the plot. The book was so short, almost nothing happens. Perhaps it was the numerous POV characters but the book was almost setting up the story, introducing the world and the characters. But where’s the story? The world building was excellent but where was the plot?

Also, that whole thing at the end with Kaleb was icky. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it. But I don’t know how’s that going to work out.

On the whole with Carnival of Souls, the good definitely outweighed the bad. I enjoyed the story and look forward to the sequel.

My Rating: 7/10

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 15, 2012 1:45 pm

    It sounds interesting but I hate books with no plots. I have been seeing a lot of those lately.

  2. September 15, 2012 8:09 pm

    Oooh, something by Melissa Marr? t can either be awesome or really suck… but by your review I can say this one may be a bit week. Thanks for the review!

  3. September 16, 2012 4:57 pm

    Hmmm, interesting. I went to a book signing for this one last week and ever since, I’ve been wishing it was further up in my reading queue! This book sounds totally interesting, so I’m saddened to see that you found it lacking in plot and MC development. Now I’m even more curious to read it.

    • September 16, 2012 5:06 pm

      It’s an interesting read with some great ideas. I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  4. September 17, 2012 5:14 am

    I’m really excited for a lot of these books!

  5. September 18, 2012 2:06 am

    I haven’t read anything by Melissa Marr yet, and I felt that starting with a new series would perhaps be better than reading her entire Wicked Lovely series. I have read some so-so reviews of this, however. That definitely is a bit concerning that the ostensible protagonist is kind of flat. This is the first book in a series, so it’s possible that Marr is setting up everything for the series and thus doesn’t give this book a plot. Understandable if that’s so, but still wouldn’t be a sign of great writing. I *really* want to try something by Marr, however, so I think I’ll give this a try. I’ll just make sure my expectations aren’t too high.

    • September 18, 2012 9:41 am

      It’s an interesting read Amanda. There is absolutely more good than bad so I hope you enjoy 🙂

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