Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

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Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: Great world-building and two interesting main characters. However the bland third main character and an ending which annoyed me by leaving pretty much everything unresolved stops me from really recommending this one.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 306 Date: September 2012
Publisher: HarperCollins
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0061659287

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In the City of daimons, the fighting is raging. Not war - this is much more organised. The Carnival of Souls is a once in a generation opportunity to change your future. Lower caste Kaleb and Aya, fighting the prejudice agaist women, aim to do just that. Meanwhile, in our world, Mallory knows of the City's existence but not she and her father need to run away so much. These three are about to be drawn together, and the consequences for everyone could be huge.

I've never read anything by Melissa Marr before but I've heard lots of people rave about her books - with Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange getting praised here at the Bookbag - so had high expectations here. Sadly, I was a bit disappointed.

There are some good parts here, with excellent world-building from Marr, who really draws the reader in and has clearly done a great job of creating a convincing 'two worlds' system complete with witches and daimons. The characters, on the other hand, are rather more hit and miss. Kaleb and Aya are well-written and their struggles in the tournament make for exciting reading, and both just about manage to be likeable despite their ruthlessness. Mallory, on the other hand, is incredibly bland and I found her father, who constantly mind-wipes her to 'protect' her to be so vile that he made my skin crawl, while the romance between her and Kaleb never captured my attention. Kaleb's packmate Zevi, on the other hand - loyal, clever, and hiding a secret of his own - is by far my favourite character and brilliantly portrayed.

However, there's another ending which completely fails to resolve anything, with one character completely failing to tell another about something which would seem rather important. I don't know if it's just me, but these endings - as if the book was originally longer and has just been cut in half - appear to be getting more common and they never fail to irritate me. This seems a particularly bad example and I wish I'd known about it in advance as I'd have been tempted to wait for the rest of the series.

Despite my issues with it, the world building is strong enough that I wouldn't suggest skipping it completely - just maybe waiting for the next one to come out so if you enjoy it so can read them both without the cliffhanger issues.

If you're looking for a much stronger romance and equally good world-building, don't miss the Caster Chronicles, starting with the superb Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Read it now before the film comes out!

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