So, it actually took me a long time to read this one. I am a huge Melissa Marr fan, and I pretty much bought this book the day it came out. It also helped that James Marsters was reading it…I am also a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. I think it took me a while though because of its format. I’m definitely more of a visual learner and sometimes have problems getting through audio books.
It also became my gym book. And I got into the habit of listening to Florence and the Machine every time I worked out, and poor Carnival of Souls sadly kept getting out-shadowed by music. However, by the time I was through about half of it, the story picked up so much, I couldn’t stop listening to it.
Marr has created a whole new world, parallel to our own, filled with daimons and witches. Daimons are governed by a caste system that seems rather impossible to elevate oneself in. However, once in a generation there is a competition that allows daimons to fight to the death for the chance to be a part of the uppermost caste. And what are daimons? They are very dangerous creatures that can look completely human (when they don’t have their claws out). They can be remarkably fast, strong, and powerful.
Mallory, a teen girl in our world, has been training her whole life to be able to stand her own against them. She knows self-defense, martial arts, and weaponry. Her father, a witch from the other world, has been protecting Mallory from daimons since before she can remember. They live on the run, moving to new towns whenever her father feels that their safety is threatened. All Mallory knows for certain about why her father is so scared is that he has stolen something very important from the daimons that he will never give back.
In the other world, the competition is in full force. On one side of the fight is Kaleb, the lowest of the low, who would do anything to jump in society (particularly now that he has been spending so much time in the human world spying on Mallory). And then there’s also Aya (my favorite character), a girl who already is of the uppermost class fighting her last potential suitor to the death. She has given up on love, on family, and on everything she always thought she needed all in order to win the competition and be able to rule without being anyone’s wife or mother.
Aya, Kaleb, Mallory, Mallory’s father, the ruler of the Carnival of Souls, and the head of the witches’ council are all guarding their own secrets. They have lived their lives keeping their secrets from everyone, and when all of their lives (in both worlds) become intertwined, and secrets are set loose, all hell breaks loose.
There’s secret marriages, fights to the death, magical spells, love, major secrets revealed, and plenty of action in this new book by Marr! Mallory and Kaleb play the star-crossed lovers. And Aya plays the ultimate heroine. The book ends with a major discovery, a kidnapped father, and a joining of all the main characters. It really was an epic end to this book!
I was not the biggest Mallory fan. Granted, Marsters read her voice how you might picture a grown man trying to sound like a spoiled, whiny four year old girl. But more than that she was just too dumb for my liking. Seriously, I figured out her whole secret in the beginning. Why did it take her 17 years to figure something out I guessed in the beginning? And I get that magic was involved to make her forget things; but still, that just seemed too much. Also, I guess it’s hard for me to like a girl who everyone in the world seems willing to give up their lives for. Can I meet a male character not willing to die for her? What is so special about her?
I also figured out Aya’s secret early on as well. However, I loved her. I loved how she was willing to sacrifice everything for her dream. I loved how she viewed everything (including Kaleb and his pack). She was one tough character and I would not want to be fighting against her in competition or out. All of the scenes where she stood up to her mom were amazing too!
What stood out the most for me was the world building. I’ve never read a setting like this before. I loved the whole class system for the daimons. I loved reading about the carnival and I loved the long time feud between witches and daimons. There were some seriously thought out elements to this setting. I can see games, other stories/books, and movies coming out of this setting. I, personally, would never go there, but it is just so cool.
This wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be. Besides Marsters’ voice for Mallory, he did a fantastic job with reading the story and pacing out all of the action sequences. I was very impressed with him (even though I wished he sounded less American and more like Spike). I just wasn’t that impressed with the Mallory character or story line. I’m used to better from Marr. I will definitely still read the sequel (if/when there is one) and just hope that plot line improves because I need to know what happens! I give this an 8/10.