Release Date: September 4th 2012
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 6 (Above average. Recommended with reservations.)
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: IndieboundAmazon

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.

17 Responses to “(fight for your right) review: carnival of souls by melissa marr”

  1. Oh, BOO! I’m sorry you didn’t love it more… I had really hopes for this one, so seeing anything other than DJAFHLJAFHKDHFAKLF CoS! MM! LOVE LOVE LOVE! MAKES ME SAAAAD.


    It *does* sound good, and this is a terrific review. I don’t think you’re the first I’ve seen refer to Mallory as the book’s weak point, which is unfortunate, and the relationship with her dad… well, it’s making *me* uncomfortable, and I’m only reading the review (which is maybe because you’re a terrific review writerer, hmmmm? :D)

    SO intrigured by thsis caste system and the carnival, but… mmmm… seriously, Elena. TERRIFIC review. I stand by my ‘LET’S SWAP’ proposal. We just need to figure symantics :D

  2. I am a big fan of Melissa Maar and her books! I love this creepy and edgy world she created here in Carnival of Souls. It’s truly too bad you couldn’t like it more. I get your point of Mallory’s Dad, but it didn’t bother me soo much I have to say. They had an interesting relationship! My highlight was Kaleb :))
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  3. Liviania says:

    I liked Aya and the worldbuilding enough to carry the weaker parts of the book.
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  4. Lori says:

    I tried reading her fairy books years ago and could never get into them. This sounds good but I don’t think I’ll be in any rush to read it.
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  5. I *just* picked this book up last week! I can’t wait to read it!

    That does sound crazy about how women are just expected to “breed” — that can be a tough thing to swallow, but I think it does happen in some cultures today.

    Sorry you didn’t like this book more!

    Thanks for sharing!
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  6. Aww, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this one as much as you wanted to, Elena! It’s always a big turn-off for me when the main character is weak, so I think I’ll be bumping this back on my TBR-Shelf. I’ve read so many mixed reviews for it and I did hear the ending was open/cliffhanger-y, so we’ll see. Nevertheless, thank you for such a well-written and honest review, dear! :D
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  7. I agree about Mallory! The romance between her and Kaleb was shocking almost, but then again, I imagine Melissa Marr intended for it to be so fast and questionable. I could do without it though. Belias and Aya definitely interested me more. Great review, Elena! :)

  8. Aylee says:

    Eh, yeah I didn’t really like this one. I agree about the lack of characterization. And I really wasn’t invested in the story and romances either. I felt at times like it was trying too hard to be shocking and edgy – and that added to my uncomfortableness. I was pretty disappointed with this one. But I did enjoy reading your review! :)

  9. The first thing that caught my eye about this book was the cover. I happen to have a great affinity for masks, and would like to collect all sorts of them (except the creepy ones that look like they’re following you with their eyes…)

    It’s been getting mixed reviews, though many lean towards the positive side, so that definitely also sparks my curiosity. It does sound like it’s pretty interesting, though the whole fighting thing reminds me slightly of The Hunger Games with a paranormal twist.

    Great review!
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  10. VeganYANerds says:

    I saw this said on another blog tonight but I’ve come to realise that 3rd person multiple pov usually means I find it hard to connect with a book and I think this was the case here although I did like that Aya was willing to stand up for what she wanted and do whatever needed to get there!
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  11. It’s always so hard when you want to love a book, but the main character makes it hard for you. Too bad about Mallory. Also, I somehow thought this would be much closer to fantasy, at least partly. That’s kind of disappointing.
    Wonderful review

  12. Karen says:

    Wow – really interesting review. The cover is really incredible and eye-catching but I never could get a handle on what it was about. IT sounds quite different. I’m not sure if I would like it but I’ll probably give it a shot.
    Thanks for being so honest.
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  13. Heidi says:

    Yeah, I loved Melissa Marr’s woldbuilding in this one, but was pretty meh about the characters. I was far more interested in Aya and Belaius (sorry if I can’t spell their names–I listened to the audio), though it’s come clear that Mallory is supposed to be the real story. The breed language made me kind of uncomfortable, and the way most the men were towards the women made me uncomfortable in general. Which is why I liked Aya fighting it even if there were ulterior motives. Nice review!
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  14. Interesting review… I don’t really know what to make of it. I have a review copy (ARC) of it but I wasn’t too interested so it’s currently in my to-swap stack (when in reality it will probably stay there until I crack and go donate them all or something because I can’t seem to get rid of them all). I think I’ll stick to my decision for now. I’m not thrilled with the sound of that possible main character and her almost too perfect relationship with her creepy dad. And the flickers of insta-love are also not doing it for me.

    Also, interesting song choice. ;P
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  15. Novel Sounds says:

    […] the blog:  I reviewed the Alibi series from Twist Literary. Carnival of Souls by Melissa Mar is a book that I had problems with but may please paranormal fantas… Sometimes I get emotional over fonts and shared some YA covers with typography I like. I compiled a […]

  16. Dianne says:

    Just finished reading it the past week so I think the memory’s still fresh. This was my first Melissa Marr book and admittedly, I was a little lost at first. I love putting readers smack dab in the middle of conflict with no introductions but I guess I was reading too much contemporary and realistic YA recently that I had a hard time adapting to this new world. But once I did, boy, it was great. I gave the novel a higher rating than I what I think it deserves because of the world, of the setting, the rules, the myths, everything. Heehee.

    I do agree on you that Mallory was the weakest part of this novel and that her relationship with her father sort of creeped me out. I wasn’t able to say it in my review because I might be the only one feeling it and then I read your review! Yey! Not. Anyway, I do hope Mallory gets some personality on the next book. I just told myself that she was like that because she was spelled and was forced to be obedient and good yadda yadda. But even if she remains a shell in the next book, I think I will still read it because of Kaleb, Aya, Belias and Zevi. Zevi turned wee bit more interesting near the book’s end and I’m excited to see where he goes.

    And yes, insta-love. Gah, I hate it. But I just chalked it up to Kaleb’s instinct to protect and care for her because she’s pack. Though I thought there will be a Kaleb-Aya loveline. I do think there will be in the next book, I dunno.

    So that was one lengthy comment. Haha! :)) Great review as always and thanks for the song! <3
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