Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

My mind is blown. This book is one of the best books I’ve read this year. It’s definitely in my all-time Top Ten list.

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr instantly sucked me in and spit me out 306 pages later. This book is amazing. I loved it, the characters, the world-building, EVERYTHING! Carnival of Souls is delicious and dark but also warm and beautiful. When I was reading, I found myself panting in anticipation; when I was working/sleeping/anything else, I was a mindless zombie dreaming/thinking/wondering about Mallory, Aya, Kaleb and Belias.

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 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.

From Melissa Marr, bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series and “Graveminder,” comes a brand-new tale of lush secrets, dark love, and the struggle to forge one’s own destiny

Marr created this dark world where corruption is everywhere and transactions of pleasure and violence are commonplace. I loved the concept that people hid their faces behind masks to conceal their identity but also that the mask’s color reflected the services the customer sought. Talk about awesome! Let’s not forget the fight to the death that is hosted once a generation and the victor is rewarded with money and power. I was absolutely and completely absorbed in this hypnotic tale of risking everything for what one most desires. The writing was clever and funny, and there was never a dull moment yet I totally understood all the background and ways of The City.  Marr’s story is filled with anticipation for blooming relationships and reconcilliation for battered ones. Marr is a wonderful storyteller, telling the darkest and sweetest of tales. Here’s a taste for one of my favorite lines:

“Hours of defense training had made her feel confident that she could handle anything boys tried, but in all of what she’d learned, there weren’t any lessons on how to avoid feeling like a skeeze because you reacted to a boy’s kiss like a cat discovering catnip.” Page 107

Each character loves someone or something, and they will do anything to get it — whether it is a fight to the death or risking everything for a brighter future. Marr’s characters are wonderfully made and beautifully unique, each voice is distinct. I loved that connection I felt like I had with each character, knowing their deepest secrets and desires. I was right there with them and I wanted them to reach their goal no matter the consequences.

There are two love stories in this book and the characters’ circumstances draw them to be intertwined in this plot for power and love. Each couple has their issues and are led by painstakingly real emotions and motives. I loved it. I loved them. I loved it all. Beautifully done, Marr.

There is so much action in this story. Marr writes awesome fight scenes that are easy to follow but also heart-wrenchingly tense. A few times I thought I was going to have a heart attack! It’s THAT good, people! I am so utterly obsessed right now. I cannot wait until the sequel. I’ve scoured the internet looking for clues but since this book was only released on Sept. 4, 2012, the next book is most likely a long time coming. The anticipation on this one might just kill me!

This book is amazing. You HAVE to read it. You will not regret it. If you love books in bloodthirsty worlds packed with romance and action, Carnival of Souls is the book for you. This has to be Melissa Marr’s best book yet.

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