Review Blog

Sep 06 2012

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

cover image

HarperCollins, 2012.
(Ages: 16+) Highly recommended. Melissa Marr's Carnival of Souls is an intoxicating journey into a fantastical world called The City, where daimons and witches reside. Every generation, The City offers its inhabitants an opportunity to join the ruling elite through the Carnival of Souls. Plagued by an unforgiving caste system, the Carnival gives fighters a beacon of hope - and the chance for those at the bottom rung to escape from dirty 'black mask' work which involves fighting and killing.
We follow the perspectives of fascinating multiple characters told in third person. Aya is the ambitious ruling class daimon who enters the fight to break free from female conventions such as marriage and breeding. Kaleb is a lower caste daimon called a cur, who can shift forms and forms a pack with those he feels a connection to. Finally, we have Mallory, a teenage girl in the human world raised and trained to fight by a witch and just wants to be normal. Each character has their own intricacies and are fascinating to read about. The third person view was also refreshing, as we're spoilt for choice with first person in YA novels.
Marr's ability in blurring the lines between different characters and connecting the dots later on is mind-blowing. You'll pick up the novel thinking you're reading one thing, and before you know it, a plot twist will have you looking at the whole book in a different light. It's these plot devices that makes it so compelling, as you turn to pages to find out more about this interesting world.
This is the first novel I've read of Marr's, and she has an amazing ability to interweave storylines to create an immersive dark fantasy. In just 300 words, she communicates amazing complexities of the caste system, the politics between daimons and witches, two alternative worlds of The City and the human world, and the thoughts of five different characters.
Carnival of souls is richly descriptive, imaginative, and complex. The story hooks you in from the very first page and will have you clamouring for more until the very end. Unfortunately when you reach the end, you'll realise that this novel is just the beginning and you'll need to wait until the sequel for more.
Jeann Wong

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