Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr Review

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: September 4, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
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.
There are two very different worlds inevitably intertwined into one. The first is the mortal world, free and normal. The second is a quick descent into fire and brimstone in a city of daimons. Mallory, however, has one foot in each world, though she doesn't understand why. Her ignorance has always been her protection, but as Kaleb tries to secure a future for himself in The City, Mallory's destiny is called into question. Where does the true balance between the two worlds lie, will there ever be peace and where does Mallory really belong?

If you're a young adult book blogger and don't yet know of Melissa Marr, you should probably hide your face in shame. I kid. Sort of. Carnival of Souls is the new epic adventure written by the veteran author, weaving the dark, searing plots she's known for into a story that is a deadly siren, luring you into a web of destruction. Full of rich adventure, deceit and malice, Carnival of Souls is as its cover implies - fiery destruction at its finest. This novel is a guessing game of dark vs. light and good vs. evil, but nothing is ever quite that simple.

Ok, I'm going to premise my thoughts on Carnival of Souls with this; I read it two times to be able to accurately detail my real thoughts on the novel. It's fast-paced, so the first time, I devoured it in nearly 4 hours. For an epic novel, it's a fairly slim amount of pages, and I'll admit that's it's definitely a page-turner. The second time, I read for the details and to truly formulate how I really feel. The verdict is, honestly, that there is a fairly equal balance of positives and negatives. Carnival of Souls does not lack adventure or drama. In fact, it's chock full of it. The writing is compelling and rich, evoking a true image of The City and the Carnival. Even more so, the drama and action leaps from the pages, making you have to read faster. That, however, is both a strength and a weakness in the case of Carnival of Souls. There was just so much going on in Carnival of Souls that the action almost outshone the characters. After two reads, I still don't have a full grasp on Mallory. I thought I understood Aya, but she's a shadow, and Kaleb just seems surface-heavy. Without those characters to become invested in, and with a host of secondary characters interjected throughout, I felt lost and confused. If the story had been 500 pages and fleshed them out further, I think it would have been perfection.

Overall, there will definitely be people that love this book, and I'll totally understand why. Unfortunately, I just expected more, and I would have hoped to see everything completely defined. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA and adult novels, especially those who enjoy paranormal and fantasy novels.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. Interesting review. While I haven't finished anything by Melissa Marr (I can't seem to want to finish any of her work; I have no idea why!), this one does sound interesting. From the sound of the summary itself, it sounded like a series or a trilogy. When I got the book in my hands, I began reading it and I wasn't the biggest fan. Too much going on so I'm saving it for later! great review though Melissa! 

  2. I'm curious what I'll think. I've only read one of Melissa's books but I loved it. It's interesting that you read it twice but still didn't have a full idea of the characters. That's frustrating.

  3. I really did want to love it. I think that it's an incredible premise, but I don't know if it's a series, or what...they didn't really elaborate.

  4. I enjoyed Wicked Lovely, but I didn't enjoy the rest of that series. I did, however, love Graveminder. I guess I was just hoping to see this more fleshed out.

  5. I really liked the first few books in the Wicked Lovely series but was really disappointed with Graveminder so I'm curious to see what my reactions will be when I pick this book up.

  6. I hope you love it more than I did! It's very dark, which appeals to me, but it just lacked the clarity to really grasp my attention.

  7. Thanks for your honest thoughts. I definitely want to give this one a shot. I'm curious about the two different realms and Mallory's place in each. It sounds like really great world-building, which is what I'm all about.

  8. I'm still very interested in checking this one out! I'm ashamed to admit I have not read any of her books yet, but this one really intrigues me. I love the cover, and the premise sounds so interesting.

  9. Great honest review!  I read and enjoyed the first two Wicked Lovely books and Graveminder, so I will eventually read this one, too.

  10. "
    If you're a young adult book blogger and don't yet know of Melissa Marr, you should probably hide your face in shame." --> Raises hand. I mean, I totally know of her. And I MEAN TO read her books. I just haven't gotten around to it. I snorted so hard when I read that. Then I face-palmed. There are so many authors that I NEED to have already read as a book blogger. Le sigh. 

    This is one that I think is super-hyped right now and I'm interested in seeing what everyone else thinks. So far, I'm seeing mixed reactions. I think for Marr, I want to start with the Wicked Lovely books because I love love love all faery stuff! 

  11. I totes agree! Every YA book blogger that reads Fantasy/UF should totes know Melissa Marr...cause she rocks! :)  I literally just started reading this. I'm sad that the story outshines the characters because I feel like with her fae series, her characters play a huge part.  I am still really excited to see what is in that crazy head of Melissa.

    Magical Urban
    Fantasy Reads


  12. I just finished reading this, like today, and I totally agree. Most reviews of this book are just GLOWING, and while I did like parts of it, it just feels like something is missing. I feel like the characters, all of them, are just touched upon, not delved into, and as a result, I'm having a hard time "getting personal" with them, if that makes sense. I know it's a set up for a series, so I'll cut it some slack. But whereas I really bonded with some of the characters in the Wicked Lovely series right from the start, I'm having a hard time warming up to these. I admit to feeling the same with her last book, Graveminder. 

    And yes, I think in this case more, a longer book with more time spent on character development, would've made all the difference to me. 

    Enjoyed your review!


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