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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars

on 6 September 2012
Carnival of Souls alternates between the human world and The City/ Carnival of Souls, narrating in third person. Due to the switch in locations, it made the plot really well paced. Never was a bored with reading about one thing. The amount of space given to each world was just enough at any one time for me as it broke up what was happening. There is a lot going on in each world, especially as characters like Kaleb and Aya have a lot going on around them. This way of telling the story also made it possible to get to know more characters than the one narrating the story.

Unfortunately, I didn't love Mallory, the main female character in this book. I'm sort of in two minds about her really. Now, I didn't dislike her but she wasn't quite as interesting as I thought she could have been. She does have an extremely interesting backstory but as she doesn't know anything about it herself, she came across as very normal and bland at times. However, (this is where I come to be in two minds) she can shoot a gun and has been trained to look after herself against daimons so really, she is quite kick-ass at the same time as being bland. Not sure how that works.

My favourite character of the book was Kaleb, a daimon who isn't in the best of places are far as class/ caste is concerned. As a cur, he is the lowest of the low and is now fighting to get a better place in life, even when it means fighting and killing to get there. I know this makes him sound like a bit of a low life but he isn't... at all. When Kaleb meets Mallory, there is a great spark between them and he knows they're meant to be. Normally, I would have a problem with this as I hate the love at first sight kind of thing but this was different. As a cur (which is kind of like a shifting dog type thing) he feels a connection with Mallory and thinks of her as his pack so the explanation saved the quickness for me. Anyway, deep down, he was very sweet and caring and only wanted something better for himself.

There was quite a bit more violence in this book than I had imagined there to be. That is definitely not a bad thing though. I really loved the competition and being able to read about some of the matches, even though they were pretty gory at times. The competition made Carnival of Souls very exciting and it also helped to break up the pacing of the plot. Reading about the matches also helped to be able to understand certain characters better and to see what they were really like. I do love a good bit of fighting in books and Melissa Marr definitely hit the spot with these scenes.

The world invented for this novel is pretty complex and can get quite confusing at times. I wished that some things, especially the Carnival of Souls, had been better explained. Some things made perfect sense instantly but then I found myself having to flick back a few pages to see whether or not I had missed something a couple of times. Once you get to grips with who are who and the rules of the system, it does all make pretty good sense. As the world is complex, it was so interesting to learn about. I have never read anything like this before and I can't wait to delve further into this world.

Carnival of Souls is dark, intense and damn exciting. I loved it and highly recommend it!
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on 14 September 2012
Mallory is a girl in hiding, caught between two worlds, the witches and the daimons. These mortal enemies have fought each other for centuries, until the daimons eventually won the war and exiled the witches from their shared world to the human world. Here Mallory lives with her father Adam, who is a powerful exiled witch. But of course, the war is far from over and both sides continue to scheme and plot against each other.

Carnival of Souls was a good book and an enjoyable read but it could so easily have been great. I felt that the story had great potential but in some parts, mainly the plot and Mallory herself, the novel fell short.

I'll start with what I liked: I loved the world, and the first class world building. The City itself was almost a character. It was complex and difficult, there were no easy options. Survival by any means necessary was the name of the game. The characters that populated this world with one notable exception were also complex. I liked that in the beginning of the story, the motivations of the characters were really ambiguous. I enjoyed the guessing and the lack of black or white characters - grey ruled the day. There were no easy solutions and all choices were difficult. I counted at least six point of view characters, but mainly the story was told from the POV of Mallory, Kaleb and Aya. Kaleb and Aya were interesting and complicated characters. I really enjoyed their chapters.

What I didn't like was the character of Mallory. She was shallow and almost unfinished. I don't know if this was a plot device and intentional by the author as a means to portray the affect on Mallory of her home life, so to speak. But it's really difficult as a reader to care about such a one dimensional and superficial character, especially where she's the focal point of the story. I had no clear grasp of who Mallory was.

I also had some issues with the plot. The book was so short, almost nothing happens. Perhaps it was the numerous POV characters but the book was almost setting up the story, introducing the world and the characters. But where's the story? The world building was excellent but where was the plot?

Also, that whole thing at the end with Kaleb was icky. You'll know what I'm talking about when you read it. But I don't know how's that going to work out.

On the whole with Carnival of Souls, the good definitely outweighed the bad. I enjoyed the story and look forward to the sequel.

My Rating: 7/10
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on 3 October 2012
4¾ Out of 5
"So, why are you wearing a knife? She smiled at Kaleb, continuing the imaginary discussion in her mind. In case I need to protect us from monsters... not that I've had to fight them yet, but, you know, just in case..."
Malloy has spent her entire life on the run. She knows she's running from the daimons and that her father, a witch, took something they want, something he refuses to give back. And she's tired of it all, sick of the endless towns and blank houses. She wants the chance to stay somewhere and make it a home - and to date Kaleb, the only boy she's ever liked.
But with the City after her, Mallory can trust no one. For in the City there are daimons who are as far from human as you could possibly be...
And now, in the Carnival of Souls, the once-in-a-generation competition is beginning. It is a chance for low caste daimons to rise up the strict caste system and join the ruling class.
The City is vicious, deadly and violent, a place where you can get your heart's desire - at a price. A place where death and pleasure twine together... It's no place for humans.
But Mallory... she might not have a choice...
I love Marr's books, always have. But Carnival of Souls was my favourite by far. It's dark and seductive, dangerous and beautiful. It was just an utterly addictive book that left me absolutely desperate for more of the world, of the characters. Yes, I love Marr's other books. But I absolutely, positively adored Carnival of Souls. Please give me more!
To me, what really shone about this book was the characters. Sure, I adored the world and the plot and everything, but I loved the characters even more! I loved how we slowly got to know them, learning their secrets, bit by bit, and how they all had faults - they weren't perfect and came to life even more because of that. Mallory, for example, was totally kickass, but she had a vulnerable side too. She was also strong and loving. Aya, meanwhile, was totally ruthless and deadly, but just wanted to be in control of her own life, rather than just being used by men. It took a little longer to warm to her, but I got why she did it all and loved her more for knowing her reasons. Kaleb... well, I felt his true nature was bluntly revealed, with no real shock-horror! moment. But I loved him - his protective streak, his passion, how he took care of Zevi... Plus, he was just really yummy. Now, Belias obviously really loved Aya. And the fact he thought the human world was "terrible" with huge "perversions" that were caused by the "barbaric nature of humanity" made me laugh my head off! I also really loved Adam, Mallory's and I loved Zevi, who was just the cutest, funniest, weirdest thing ever! I could literally just wrap him up and take him home with me!
I also really loved the bond between Mallory and Kaleb. I loved how it was dealt with, explained, made real. And I could so feel the chemistry between them!
I loved how we got to read from all the main character's perspectives. It let us look at everything - the world, events, people - in so many different ways, something I found pretty darn magical. Plus, I could see everything in my head - everything! And the plot in this was amazing, better than any of Marr's others. It was fast, full of twists, dark, addictive and amazingly seductive. I was always guessing and I loved that Marr found that perfect balance between non-stop action and the most brilliant word building.
Speaking of, I do love all of Marr's worlds. This one had all her usual richness and even more of the violence! I just loved the City - even if it kind of scared the heebie jeebies out of me! I must say, though, I felt that what demons were and what they could do wasn't explained too clearly to begin with. I'm still a little confused about parts. But, nonetheless, I could see the whole world in my head. It was awesome and so well built up!
While we're on the world, I have to add, I'm a real feminist, so generally I'd prefer a world ruled by women than one ruled by men. And when women are repressed and used for breeding, I'm normally spitting mad. But... I don't know, it just wasn't like that with Carnival of Souls. Maybe it was the afore-mentioned brilliant world building or the kickass female characters, but even the feminist in me was in love with this book. Miracles exist, people!
Deliciously dark and seductively sexy, Carnivals of Souls actually blew me away. I loved it to pieces, gobbled it all up, totally hooked. I also have like three new fictional crushes. Yes, this book was way beyond amazing and exceeded all my expectations. I'm hoping like you wouldn't believe for a second book in this series. So please, Ms Marr! Give me a second book! Because I actually, physically, desperately need to know what happens next! So, please Melissa, please!
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on 9 September 2012
Alison for Big Book Little Book
Provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

I was really excited to read this book. I think few write `dark atmosphere' better than Melissa Marr on the YA scene and `Carnival of Souls' certainly didn't disappoint.

The book is based in two very different worlds, the world that we live and The City. After winning a war that lasted for years within The City the Daimons banished the Witches to our world and that is where they stay. The City is so well described that it almost takes on a life of its own and you feel you know it in the same way as you do the characters. I really felt as though I was there and could hear the noise and smell the smells of the `Carnival of Souls', which takes place a night within the city.

It is the characters that really make this book. It is a true ensemble cast and as the book moves on you get to know all four main characters very well, how they think and how they react to what goes on around them. Although the story focuses around events in Mallory's life, Kaleb, Aya and to a slightly lesser extent Belios all seem just as important. This works very well as I honestly didn't have a favourite. The fact that the book is written from multiple points of view is what makes it so special. It allows you to get to know more than one character and how they think instead of seeing everybody through just one person's eyes.

Apparently this book wasn't planned; Melissa Marr just had an idea and then ran with it. This is a perfect example of why you should be able to do just that. It's a very strong start to a new series and I am very much looking forward to the next one.

Verdict: Fantastic setting and a brilliant ensemble cast. I can't wait for more!
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2014
I was lucky enough to read this when it was first published but failed miserably to articulate my thoughts. So here goes:

The world building is exquisite and typical of Melissa Marr’s genius with descriptive writing. The characters are engaging and complex, the narrative riddled with revelations concerning their actions, interactions and relationships. The multi-point narration gives insight into each of the characters, while providing the basis to control of the myriad of plot threads expertly woven together. I especially liked how the twists crossed the characters and evolved with each perspective.

Melissa Marr blends fantasy and dystopia with romance and survival. The action is fast paced, the characters engaging and the plot leaves you reeling. Leaving you with a high level of expectation for the next piece of the plot.

The only thing that dampened my enjoyment of the book as a whole was the sexual ambiguity of the male characters in the story alongside their portrayal as a pack, bringing forth imagery of savage wolves rather than a mutual beneficial friendship.
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on 18 February 2013
Although it wasn't quite as thrilling as I was expecting and was too short for me to get really into, it set up what I hope will be an exciting sequel. I liked most of the characters however it felt somewhat childish in places with such a young protagonist who I couldn't relate to or like that much. I hope the second book is better and gives a wider detail to the war it mentions and the rules on magic as neither were explained well I felt. Overall I did enjoy reading though!
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on 14 October 2012
I went to my local bookshop, browsed around, bought a couple of books and then decided to have a fifteen minute break in the coffee shop upstairs. Forty minutes later I was still there, getting weird looks. My coffee had gone cold. I could not stop reading this book. It is only after you get into the depths of what this story is about do you discover how vague the blurb is. Carnival of Souls is a woven tale of secrets, family, laws and a wonderfully crafted fantasy world.

Many multiple `point of view' books fall into a trap of being slow in pace. You're waiting for something to happen but you have to go through many more slow sections before it does. Not here. I was absorbed into Carnival of Souls. As each character is connected in some way, each person's story, each chapter, adds a little more and I loved piecing it together in my head. I loved the building of the world and the backstory of each character that led to the present. It was all about discovery, my favourite kind of story.

This book was so vivid. It was like I was watching a movie inside of my head. The writing, the pace, the imagery, it was amazing. I loved the whole world that has been created. I have read many demon and witch stories and yet I was still in love with this world. It was dark and grimy, full of oppression. It felt really realistic, well in terms of a demon society any way. Not only do we have the demons world but we have the witches' world too. Separate and yet connected. Both were great. I hope to learn more about the witches' world in the next book. At first I thought it was a stand alone but it cannot end there.

What I enjoyed the most was probably all the relationships between each of the characters; Adam and Mallory, Kaleb and Zevi, Aya and Belias, many more. Each was different and each had their own secrets. I felt a connection to each of them. Not easy when there are so many characters.

I know this review seems to be just me rambling but this book has everything that I could have wanted; great setting, great magic, great characters and a beautifully woven plot between all the characters that was unveiled at just the right pace. What more could you want? I may even consider giving some of Melissa's other books another go.
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on 19 May 2013
Incredible well written and gripping. If I'd had the time to read it all in one go I would have!
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