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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Twins on Thursday: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

"The Twins on Thursday" is reserved for the Twins' joint reviews. It is a special feature of our blog that discusses books that we either both like, dislike, or have mixed feelings about. This is also the day where we post reviews for books (and ARCs/Galleys) that have been sent to us by authors/galley sites/publishing houses. And because we don't believe much in uniformity, we'll be trying to mix things up a bit by adding random stuff in relation to our review (well, mostly for books we purchased anyway).

Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
Publishing House: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780061659287
Source of Copy: Purchased from National Bookstore


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 her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


When it comes to her stepfather Adam, Mallory knows better than asking him why they have to skip town so often. After all, she did grow up training herself from daimon attacks - something that she deems useless and unnecessary. When she met Kaleb, she knew nothing could possibly come from their mutual attraction. But Kaleb is not all that he seems. He's a daimon, and he is hellbent on winning the competition, and securing the hand of the princess of The City. And it's just not any princess either. It's Mallory.

Aya is a street smart peer turned fighter. As much as she loves Belias, her intended, she can't help but fight for her destiny, and fight for her right to be a leader who can actually affect change. If only Belias could see that even though he's more than enough for her, her status and actual identity are actually worthless in the eyes of society...

Belias can't understand why Aya has to fight. She's got it all - money, the lineage, and now, the fame. She's made her point that she's a worthy opponent. Why can't she be contented to stay with him? When Belias uncovers Aya's secret, he will ultimately feel betrayed. But how do you hate someone who risked her life to save yours? How do you hate someone you've loved for years, to no end?

Kaleb knows he's scum. He's on the bottom of the social hierarchy, and this competition is the only way he can elevate his rank. He wasn't supposed to be in love with Mallory; they had other plans for her. But somewhere along the way, he did, and it's something that he's willing to fight for. That is, if Mallory would let him.

In Carnival of Souls, the story is narrated in multiple points of view that the author manages to pull off surprisingly well. Readers will find themselves transitioning from one world to the other - between the human world and The City - with no complications whatsoever. It starts off a tad bit slow, but it fits the atmosphere of the story, building up one's anticipation for the action to begin. The world-building is delightful, the Carnival is described as a beautifully sinister place, ripe with danger, pleasure and deceit. We found it really easy to imagine the Carnival and all its gruesome splendor and it wasn't hard to immerse ourselves into the story. We were captivated by the way the Carnival was detailed, the way colored masks were used to hawk services and the way the City revolved around the Carnival.  

Carnival of Souls turned out to be quite a surprise for us and we're glad we decided to pick it up. The book boasts beautiful world-building and characters that are so easy to fall in love with; it's a dangerously beautiful book filled with magic, tortured romance, danger and all the thrills that a lavish pleasure-filled, eerily alluring albeit chaotic carnival can bring.


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