Every generation, The City gives its inhabitants a chance to join the ruling elite. Daimons from every class are eligible to enter the competition hosted by the Carnival of Souls. To each daimon the competition holds a different promise; however, to Aya and Kaleb, it means a way out of their current life.
Kaleb is a lowly cur and assassin for hire; he accepts a job that sends him to the human world, however, after spending some time there he is no longer sure he can go through with the contract and will need to find another way out of it.
Aya is woman from the ruling-caste, intent of being more than someone’s wife and breeding partner. She enters the competition with plans to broaden her options and change the system of The City.
The only problem is… she didn’t count on former betrothed, Belias, entering too.
Mallory is the dutiful daughter of witch living in the human world. She spends her free time training to be prepared for any kind of attack. Except how much does she really know about the type of creatures that are hunting her down?
And what will happen when these four characters collide?
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr is told through the switching point of views of Mallory, Kaleb, Aya and Belias, and it is surprisingly easy to move from one character to the other.
This is a good move by Marr as, in the beginning, Mallory doesn’t appear to be a strong enough character to hold the novel on her own, so the addition of other POV’s helps to progress the plot. By the end, however, you can definitely see the potential in Mallory and how she is going to change the story of future novels.
From the very start I felt an instant connection to Belias; there is a bittersweet air that floats around him and it comes from his relationship with Aya. While Mallory is kept sheltered and innocent, Aya is tough, determined and out to changed the world. She will stop at nothing—even if that means losing the man she loves to Carnival of Souls.
And in the midst of the violence is Kaleb, a cur fighting for his chance to move up in The City. Looking out for him is his packmate, the adorable and intriguing, Zevi. Quite a few hints are dropped about Zevi’s past and the intelligence that currently lurks inside of him.
Marr’s world building is thrilling, with some great elements to the place she has created, but there are moments where I feel like I am sitting on the periphery of her world and as hard as I try I can’t see the whole thing. This could merely mean that the supernatural or magical elements, and their roles and limitations, need to be fleshed a little more.
Another minor issue is the characters ages. Zevi’s is hard to gauge; he appears both young and old—and I was completely wrong about Aya and Belias; they appear older (especially in comparison to Mallory) so it came as a little jolt when their true ages are revealed.
Carnival of Souls is a sound platform for a sequel; it sets up The City as a place full of sin and varying degrees of power, while also showcasing the human world with witches. Marr introduces readers to a cast of characters and their ensuing love stories: the standout being Belias and Aya, as they continue to circle one another in almost a tragic fashion.
There is an undeniably sinful edge to Marr’s novel that will have you wanting to enter the Carnival of Souls—even if it’s only as a spectator.
Available now: HarperCollins RRP$7.99 (E-Book)