Carnival of Souls
By Melissa Marr
My Rating: 2.5 / 5
I read Melissa Marr’s Graveminder and really liked it, so I was looking forward to reading this book.
Here is the Goodreads summary:
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.
I really wanted to like this book, but I just couldn’t get into it. I was intrigued by the descriptions of The City and the competition that Aya and Kaleb were participating in, but when the story shifted to Mallory and Adam in the human world, I found the change a bit jarring. I think that it took too long to bring the characters and their stories – in The City and the human world – together, for my liking. I sort of felt like things were just getting interesting right at the end of the book.
I have to admit that at times, I was pretty confused about what was going on. I don’t know if I just wasn’t paying close enough attention or what, but I felt like events happened and then an explanation was provided afterwards but it was just too much of an info dump. If the explanations had been provided before the events they were serving to explain took place, things might have made more sense while I was reading. Instead, something happened, I was confused, then an explanation was given, like, ‘Oh that thing is that way because explanation’. It felt like too much telling, rather than showing.
I also didn’t really feel attached to or care much about any of the characters, other than Adam and Zevi (who both loved someone that they were trying to keep safe and were afraid to lose). I think Mallory was supposed to be the protagonist, or one of them, but I never felt like I learned that much about her. Also, the explanation for the insta-love between Mallory and Kaleb (SPOILER they’re pack, so they’re meant to be drawn to each other?) sort of irritated me, because they loved each other…just because. Because pack. What? I don’t even know anymore. END SPOILER
Also…the way women were referred to as breeders irked me. I know that in The City, that’s the way of it, fine. But SPOILER Kaleb marrying Mallory without her knowledge (huh?) and planning out her future, again without her knowledge, and actively hiding that he had magically married her by proxy (say what??) bothered me so much that I don’t even have the energy to get into it right now. Blurgh. END SPOILER
I might have enjoyed the story more if it had perhaps been more focused, rather than telling the story via multiple characters’ (third person) narration. While I appreciated getting a sense of each character’s motivations, I think that lent to my confusion and difficulty keeping their stories straight.
I don’t know, I sort of felt like I got far enough into the book that I had to finish it just to finish, not because I really wanted to know what would happen (and it was fairly predictable in the end, including the cliffhanger ending).
I’m pretty sure I won’t be reading the sequel, and I really do want to like – no, love – every book I read, so I’m sort of bummed that I didn’t feel that way about this book. However, if you like YA, fantasy, and a bit of a darker story, this may be for you.