Title: Carnival of Souls
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: Harper Collins (2012)
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.While I loved the first two books in the Wicked Lovely series, I never really got into the rest of them. I picked up Graveminder, which I DNFed after 70 pages due to boredom. So Melissa Marr and I have a somewhat turbulent history. I was skeptical about Carnival of Souls, not having read many reviews and still recovering from Graveminder.
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 of her. There are plans for Mallory, and soon she, too, will be drawn into the decadence and danger that is the Carnival of Souls.
I was lucky enough to have purchased this at the Exclusive Books Warehouse Sale. It was an impulse buy, as is pretty much everything I get there. Not expecting much, I picked it up and didn't want to put it down.
This is easily Marr's best novel to date. She has created such a unique and imaginative world and her characters are strong and unique. I particularly loved Zevi, Kaleb's friend and packmate.
There was an element of instalove, though, which I could not quite overlook in spite of the brilliant writing. I loathe instalove. And it should not be explained by some stupid "instinct". Characters should have chemistry that evolves into tension so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. This is sadly something that is missing in a lot of YA these days. You don't just simply fall in love without knowing the person. That is utter bull and this must stop right now.
I think authors feel compelled to add in the romance into a story that often doesn't really need it. Carnival has a strong enough premise that the romance actually felt excessive. Although there were subtler hints at other potential pairings that I appreciated far more than the main characters' story.
Can we please start writing plot-driven YA without the romantic focus? Unless an author really knows how to build a relationship realistically and romantically, don't bother. I can pick up every second YA on the shelf for this cardboard love.
Rant aside, I did love this. I cannot wait for the sequel! It is fantastic and will appeal to paranormal and fantasy fans.