When I saw that Melissa Marr was coming out with a brand-new series, I did a little happy shimmy and jotted down the release date on my calendar (hey, it's helpful!). The speed with which I downloaded it onto my Kindle must've astounded Road Runner himself.
"Carnival of Souls" is just as dark and alluring as its predecessors, yet unique in its own way. Ms. Marr crafts a world of daimons and witches, two races sworn to vengeance and hatred against each other. In the City, inhabited by daimons, Marchosias hosts a deadly competition. Aya and Kaleb are two of the contenders, seeking a better life in a society where the caste system is rigidly in place and sin is all too prevalent. In the human world, Mallory has grown up being taught by her adoptive witch father to defend herself against daimons. Little does she know that her life is about to be sucked into the beguiling--and misleading--charms of the Carnival of Souls.
I loved the characters in the novel, who were all so different in their own ways. I especially liked Aya--who doesn't appreciate a kick-ass heroine? I also liked the relationship between Kaleb and Zevi. The loyalty and bond between the two packmates was so believable and touching at times. The one thing that didn't ride with me as well was the budding romance between Mallory and Kaleb. On Kaleb's part, it seemed a little too sudden and forced to be realistic. I wish we'd seen more of why exactly he was attracted to her in the first place before making things between them more serious.
Ms. Marr's way of telling the story through the viewpoint of four characters worked well this time too. I was able to really get into the heads of the protagonists, and it's an effective way of revealing plot points or surprises as the story unfolds. There are so many subtle things that you pick up on through these different perspectives, and I feel like Sherlock Holmes when I flourish my finger and go "AHA!" when I notice something sneakily (or blatantly, whatever) revealed in the chapters.
The plot was fairly engaging throughout, and a lot happens, especially with Aya and the competition. One thing that dragged it down a little were the parts with Mallory. It really seemed forced at times to be truly realistic. Maybe it's because we didn't spend as much time with Mallory as with Aya and Kaleb, who are actively a part of the Carnival of Souls. With the ending, though, I'm sure we'll be in Mallory's head a little more in the next book of the series!
Overall, I really enjoyed reading "Carnival of Souls", and it's definitely worth checking out, especially if you enjoy urban fantasy without the whole thing being centered around sappy romance (though I'm not complaining!). The dark yet beautiful world interwoven with the human one in which we live in is entrancing and compelling, and I can't wait until the sequel comes out.
A little side note/fun fact: Evelyn is Adam's calculating witch-sister. She's pretty ruthless. And Evelyn is my middle name! It's so weird reading about a character with the same name as you, though I guess it'd be weirder if there was a character named Yoon-Ji, which has never happened to me before. I wonder whether it makes it more personal or engaging. Huh.
Also, check out the video trailer of the book!