Release Date: September 4, 2012
(Thanks ATWT for letting me participate on this tour!)
Published by: Harper
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
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.
1. (+) Mallory, the protagonist - Even though this story is told from multiple POVs, Mallory seems to be the focus of this book. Mallory's a pretty easy protagonist to sympathize with -- she's been on the run her whole life because of the circumstances of her birth, and her father, Adam, has taught her how to fight off daimons should she run into them. What makes it even easier to sympathize with her is that Adam spells her, essentially takes away her will, and you're just waiting for Mallory to come into herself and be allowed to make her own decisions.
2. (+) The Characters - I feel like it's almost obligatory to want to read a Melissa Marr book because of the characters. The multiple POVs let you not only see the world from different perspectives but also let you see each character in a different light than what you'd get from his/her perspective. It helps make them multi-dimensional. And it's hard not to sympathize with the three main POVs you get (there are some others, but they're not as constant) -- you have Mallory, who's on the tail end of danger without ever knowing it because her father keeps her very, very sheltered and who wants more from life than running away; you have Kaleb, who wants to be more than a lower class daimon who has to constantly fight the others just to prove himself and gain their respect; you have Aya, who wants to help run the City and improve it but cannot because she is a woman whose primary purpose is to mate with another daimon and breed more daimons. There's a lot more to them than this, and there are more characters too, but I don't want to spoil it for you guys.
3. (+) The World-Building - There's a lot more to this world than what's revealed in this book, and I love getting that feeling but also having some sense of how things work. There's a rigid class divide among the daimons, enough that it can determine one's destiny (last line in the summary). The Carnival offers the chance to fix that, and to become a part of the ruling class where one can help rule the City. The different types of masks as well as what separates the classes are described, and I remember a reflection on a ladder in the City? There's a lot telling you about the former war between the witches and the daimons and how things ended up the way they are now. One thing I wish there had been more of was a description of the Carnival itself - I feel like I had an idea in my head of what it should be but knowing what the world was like, it didn't match to what I was picturing.... Other than that, I can't wait to find out more details.
4. (+/-) The Romance - The romance has got a lot of the same elements that Wicked Lovely does - the couple that loves each other but can't be together because of a world-building detail separating them, and the couple that has really intense interactions because of a world-building detail but they aren't in love... yet. There is no love triangle, as there was in Wicked Lovely, but I found the romance here to be less sensual. Mallory and Kaleb have a little thing going on, but because the book is set a month after they meet, you don't get to see the interactions that brought them together. It's harder to understand their intense reactions to each other without labeling it as insta-love. I'd say more about that but I don't want to spoil anything... On the other hand, I found it easier to understand that Aya/Belial situation, and that romance was nice, and I'd like to read more about it.
5. (+/-) The Plot - This is very much the plot of a first book in the series. For a lot of the characters' actions, there are no repercussions...yet. I can't say that things aren't happening but that feeling is still there because a lot of the long lasting consequences will affect the rest of the series. Carnival of Souls has its own plot - what seems to be the "initiation" stage of a hero's journey for Mallory - but a lot of the conflict, the rising stakes, are postponed.
6. (+) The Villains - The leaders of both the daimons and the witches remain pretty mysterious and cunning. They're powerful and clearly can inspire their people to do work, but you don't get to see them really in action - you do get the perspective of the witch leader on occasion, but it's still kind of isolated, though definitely also disturbing. I can't wait to see them at their worst (and best).
7. (+/-) Predictability - Again I think this comes from the fact that the plot is for the first in a series, but there were a lot of elements I could predict. The ones I couldn't were the best, and those generally came from world-building details Marr hadn't yet introduced to us.
8. (+) The Writing - She has a very distinct writing voice. If you've read another Melissa Marr book and enjoyed it, then you'll still enjoy it here. If you haven't one... here's the way I've seen it. Sometimes at the beginning of a chapter, there's a telling phase. Telling you of the world in a sort of conversational way, because you're entrenched in that character's POV, but there's no masking that the fact that it's a telling phase preparing you for the rest of what happens in the chapter. It's been a while since I read this one but I'd say maybe 1/2 of a usual chapter is narrative/world telling while the other half is dialogue and action. The writing itself is sensual and edged with danger and desire and longing.
9. (+/-) Pacing - The pacing remains pretty constant throughout, but my issue with it is because it's a first book in the series. There was a climax at the end, but it didn't have much of an effect on my perception of the pacing, because I'd already accepted that event would happen.
10. (+) The Cover - This cover is beautiful. I don't know the word for the effect, but when you touch the mask, it's sort of embossed? you feel its image and the fire around it. All in all, really nice of way of capturing your eye and representing the world within the book.
Carnival of Souls has the romance, danger, and character and world-building detail of the first book in a sure to be exciting series.