Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

I definitely picked up this book at the library because the cover just looks so cool. I mean, I had also read a few of the books in the “Wicked Lovely” series by Melissa Marr, and they were alright, but mostly I snagged this one because it caught my eye. Kudos to the cover designer.

It’s a little difficult to describe what “Carnival of Souls” is about. The story is told by three main characters, who each have lots of secrets that they keep from the people around them, including the reader. Mallory is a young girl living in the human world. Her father is a powerful witch–brother, in fact, to the powerful and sinister leader of the Witch’s Council–and he has taught Mallory to fear and hate the daimons who live in The City.

Aya and Kaleb are daimons who live in The City, in a separate dimension from the Human World. The City is ruled by the daimon Marchosias, who enforces a strict caste-system, and demands that all female daimons breed to increase their numbers. Aya refuses to breed, so she chooses to participate in Marchosias’s Competition. If she wins the Competition, she can become part of the government who rules The City, and hopes from there she can make changes for the better. Aya refuses to tell anyone–even her fiance–why she cannot have children.

Kaleb is another daimon fighting in Marchosias’s Competition. He is fighting to improve his status in the caste-system. Unlike Aya, he is low-born, and has had to work as an assassin to survive in The City. It’s his job as an assassin that leads him to Mallory. He took what he thought was a simple job to find her, but once he gets to know her, he finds (not particularly surprisingly) he cannot complete his job and kill her.

The difficult thing about “Carnival of Souls” is that the variety of narrators–each with their own limited knowledge or secrets, it takes a long time to understand the world. I spent most of the first 3/4 of the book wondering how the characters were all going to come together, and wondering where all the information you slowly find out is leading. In the end, things start to come together and make sense, but it takes awhile to get there.

Overall, this novel reads like a prequel. It’s new, so no information yet as to whether or when Melissa Marr will be writing a sequel, but she clearly intends to. I liked the characters in the book. Aya is a typical strong woman who wants to change her place in the world. Kaleb is another character willing to take risks to improve his lot in life. Mallory starts out sure of herself, but towards the end of the novel gets a little whiny and annoying. Hopefully she will “find herself” again for the next book, whenever it arrives.

Happy reading!

-Branwen

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