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.
Hardcover, 306 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2012 by HarperCollins
Four stars: A world where everything is for sale for a price at the Carnival of Souls.
At the Carnival of Souls bodies jostle in the crowded streets. Everyone is here for something....whether it be pleasure, fights, murder, favors, secrets, impossibilites and more. Everything and anything is for sale in this world. It is a world where the daimons cast out the witches after centuries of battle. In this society, there is an ordered caste system. The ruling class holds the power while the lowest members fight to survive. The headline event at the Carnival of Souls is a fighting match. Pitting daimon against daimon in bloody to the death battles. Surprisingly, one of the top contenders is a female of the ruling class, Aya. She has seemingly thrown away her status and behaves in an unladylike way that has turned many of her class away from her. Aya doesn't care, she fights to free herself from the chains of a male dominated society where females are viewed as breeding vessels. Aya fights to avoid bearing children. She wants to help rule the city and make a difference. Her path is fraught with danger and death as she is set to fight Belias her once betrothed. She will kill him if necessary; she must protect her secret at all costs. Also in the death matches is Kaleb. He is a lowly cur looking to better his existence. He fights to provide safety for his packmate, Zepi. Things become complicated when he is hired to kill a girl living in the human world. A girl who he suddenly develops feelings for. A girl that could be the death of him. Who will prevail at the Carnival of Souls?
What I Liked:
- This book presents four different view points: Kaleb, Mallory, Aya and Belias. I actually enjoyed each unique voice and found myself bonding and rooting for each character. All the characters are well developed and each draws you into their specific set of conflicts. It isn't often that I find a book where all the characters are well defined. I had no problems with the shifting view points.
- Aya is an awesome kick butt female lead. In a male dominated society, she endeavors to be more than a breeding vessel. Her desires thrust her into the death matches where she exceeds expectations. How many girls do you know are willing to go toe to toe with some of the best fighters in a death match? She is ferociously brave and capable. I loved that her character was complex and as the book progresses she reveals a big secret that was a bit unexpected.
- Kaleb is a lowly cur daimon who is fighting to change his lot in life. He is so much more than meets the eye and underneath the tough exterior he hides a good heart. This is evident in the way he protects his packmate, Zepi. I really liked the bond the two shared. I also liked the way he was willing to sacrifice to protect Mallory. He is the ulitmate underdog.
- The world building in this book is well done. The characters shift back and forth between the human world, where the witches hide in disguise and the daimon world with the Carnival of Souls. I especially liked the Carnival of Souls. It is a dark festival where masked revelers enter to purchase whatever their heart desires. In the shady booths one can experience lust and pleasure or take in the bloody fights and so much more.
- I liked that this book presents numerous complex story lines that skillfully converge at the end. The ending avoids the dreadful cliffhanger but it is a bit abrupt leaving the reader wondering what is to come next.
And The Not So Much:
- I never felt like I had a true grasp on the daimons and their abilities. They are a species that had their own set of powers and they are shapeshifters of sorts. Kaleb is a cur and can transform into a dog, but the rest were never clearly defined. Some had talons, did they transform into birds? What were all the powers that the daimons possessed? How did they defeat the witches? I was a bit lost with this species.
- The witches remained a bit a of a mystery as well. They were banished to the human world where they hid from the daimons. I wanted to know more about their powers and abilities as well.
- The book introduces us to the Watchers. Again I wanted to know more about them, their purpose and powers.
- This book has shades of insta love which didn't exactly appeal to me. However, it is a bit better once the reader learns more about daimons and packs and bonds.
- I was not a fan of the male dominated daimon society where the females appeared to have no rights and were forced into marriages in order to bear offspring. At least Aya is a champion to go against these standards.
- This book is for mature readers, as it portrays many dark themes and there is violence. Furthermore, the story line is complex and I see this as a book suited for older readers.
Carnival of Souls plunges you into a dark world full of danger. A society that engages in all that is wicked while hidden behind masks at the Carnival of Souls. A world where caste and power controls the masses, but there is a chance to break free in the death matches. This is a fun, dark read with many paranormal entities that are exciting and original. Do you dare to enter into the Carnival of Souls?
"He wanted all of the secrets to be already out and resolved so they could move forward---not because it woudl be better for a plan or for anything other than the simple fact that he wanted her to be happy."
"Her happiness mattered more than his; her well-being mattered more."
"No one is automatically good or bad because of their species."
I received an ARC of this book courtesy of ATWT. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not compensated for this review. All quotations are taken from the ARC and may vary from the final copy.