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.
Number of Pages: 306
Reviewed by Ellie, age 16
The one way I can aptly describe Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is by calling it raw. This book is akin to (pardon the cliché) looking at a car crash. There were many moments where I just wanted to put the book down because some detail or another shocked me…but I couldn’t. Once I got back into the story, I wanted to see what happened next.
Carnival of Souls follows the lives of a whole cast of characters, the main ones being:
- Mallory, the girl who was raised by a witch and is unsure of her past and her future
- Kaleb, the damion (damion: a person who can turn into a beast) who deals in multiple sketchy businesses
- Aya, the fierce ruling class daughter-turned-fighter who has a secret
- And finally…
- Belias, another damion fighter who has a past with Aya and a future that gets darker as the book goes on
Through much bargaining and magic, these four paths intersect and create a labyrinth of deals, lies, and promises. All this drama is set against the backdrop of the Carnival of Souls, an otherworldly market where anything and everything is up for grabs.
This book is unflinchingly honest. Most authors try will gloss over violent or unsavory details in their books, but Carnival of Souls has none of the phony sheen. From the violent and merciless fights going on in the Carnival of Souls to the shady businesses springing up throughout the book, I was often surprised to read about certain storylines. While these shocking twists did retract from the reading experience at times, I still loved the world-building that Marr has in this book. Everything was set up in an understandable yet unique world that I found to be both frightening and interesting.
The characters, too, were fascinating and ranged in depth. 9 times out of 10, the characters reacted in unique and natural ways to their situation. (That 1 out of 10 occurrence happened because a couple characters acted in a cliché manner: the insta-love couple, the unlikeable character giving a speech that resolves almost all of the mysteries, et cetera). My favorite characters were Aya and Belias. They have an interesting relationship and chemistry, one made all the more fascinating due to Aya’s aforementioned secrets.
Overall, I would recommend this book for teens of either gender who are 14+ and enjoy either fantasy or a Hunger Games-ish tale of secrets.
This book is on shelves now!
Buy Hardcover | $17.99
Ellie, age 16
Ellie, age 16