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.
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is shelved as a fantasy but it’s more of a paranormal with fantasy elements. There’s high animosity between witches and daimons. Daimons live in The City while witches live in the human world. Setting plays a crucial part in Carnival of Souls and it’s also divided within the multiple perspectives.
I think Mallory is the main character but she is the weakest part of the novel. Honestly, she really did not make an impression on me. She’s not too offensive or anything, just not particularly memorable. She has a great relationship with her dad, Adam, but maybe a bit too great. The repetition of Good daughters always obey is a little creepy and the fact he’s prone to manipulating her memory makes me uncomfortable. A lot of things in this book made me uncomfortable, actually. Aya is another character, a high born with aspirations to do more than simply be a wife and breed. The women’s positions in this society is highly questionable. They’re simply expected to do not much else but make babies for the men, which is termed ‘breeding.’ ‘Breed’ is an interesting word choice because it connotes animalistic qualities, many times the women don’t seem more than cattle. It’s unsettling to see women referred to in such a way but it’s not only them who are debased in animalistic ways.
Kaleb is a cur and on the lower end of the caste system. Many times, he refers to his pack which consists of Zavi. The way they are described reminds me of wolves and Kaleb notes that they are nothing more than dogs in the eyes of the caste system. Comparable to gladiators in Roman times, Kaleb is an accomplished fighter who whores himself and does lesser things for money. One of the lesser things leads Kaleb to Mallory and let’s just say their romance reminds me of the dreaded insta-love. There is really no basis for their love as they barely know each other. I’m glad that Mallory tells Kaleb this when he is quick to confess his undying love but it still doesn’t really change the fact they’re already moving VERY quickly. I was expecting a certain twist that never came in the book but the book does slowly reveal others.
Melissa Marr is adept at creating the world of Carnival of Souls. It’s easy to imagine the harsh world of The City and the determination of Aya and Kaleb to try create a better life for themselves. Although I have qualms about this book and feel like it needed more of a resolution, if you like paranormal fantasy, you may like Carnival of Souls.
Sound: The Walkmen – Victory
We all get even
And we all get wise
Take what’s good for me
I know what I fight
Victory right beside me
There’s blood all over my hands
Victory should be mine
In the game of Carnival of Souls, you forfeit or you DIE.