Cassie's Reviews > Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
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Oct 06, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: ya, romantic, paranormal, put-on-my-rantypants
Read from October 02 to 06, 2012

I really wanted to like this - and for the first 50 pages or so, I actually did - and it pretty much fell apart. Melissa Marr has some good ideas here, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

The world building is lackluster. We're TOLD (not shown) that witches and daimons hate each other, and once upon a time a daimon army slaughtered a ton of witches and kicked the rest out of The City, banishing them to the human world. The witches aren't happy about this and are plotting revenge. The daimon army's leader is their ruler, and the daimon world has a rigid caste system that can be transcended by winning a tournament of death matches. Several of our main characters are fighting in the tournament for different reasons, and our other main character is the daimon leader's daughter, who has been spirited away by witches. There are a lot of convoluted rules governing daimon-witch interactions and laws that don't make much sense, and the whole daimon/witch universe requires an unwieldy amount of explanation in the text from Marr.

The other huge problem with the storytelling is that we begin in the middle of several different plot threads. There are about three or four different stories going on at the same time, and the reader doesn't get satisfactory explanation for anything. For instance, we meet Aya and Belias just as they're about to fight each other in the tournament. They're in love with each other, but Aya refuses to marry and breed with Belias for reasons she keeps to herself. Neither will forfeit their place in the tournament, which means one must kill the other. I'm not putting this under a spoiler cut because it seriously happens the moment readers are introduced to these characters. All of the events leading up to this introductory moment would make for an awesome story, and therein lies the rub. Anything that could have been remotely interesting is told to us as offhand backstory. The war between the daimons and the witches? Could've been a cool story and would've made things MUCH easier to understand, but instead it's just background info. Marchosias and Haage's feuding? Could've been a cool story. Zevi's life in the Untamed Lands? Could've been a cool story. I can go on and on.

Instead, we spend most of our time with Kaleb and Mallory, who is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Her crush on the mysterious Kaleb and desire to be a "normal" girl are seriously lame, especially compounded by the fact that she's so sheltered by secrets and lies that the reader already knows the truth behind. Plus, they fall immediately into love, which is also extremely boring. There's not much dramatic tension, and all of the stories that are truly dramatic and tense are pushed aside to make way for Mallory, the daughter of Marchosias and a potential pawn to be used by all of the other actually interesting characters. Mallory is the most passive, reactive kind of heroine; everything is done TO her, and because of her parentage, everybody wants to use her. Because she doesn't know who she really is, she's pretty much defenseless in spite of her extensive combat training (which seems particularly useless because she's outmatched by every single daimon and witch she comes into contact with). She's finally able to take a little initiative at the very end of the story, but by then I'd already lost interest and figured out that absolutely nothing was going to be resolved. The story feels like it ends in the middle since Marr ended up having to waste her word count on backstory and explanation before she could ever get around to telling the story she *really* wanted to tell (Mallory's).

Also, it feels a little age inappropriate. I don't mean that the content is necessarily too mature - there *are* references to characters having sex either out of love or out of necessity (read: prostitution) and a fair amount of violence, fyi - but nothing overly explicit. Rather, there's a ton of talk about marriage and breeding that just doesn't seem suited to characters that are 17-19 years old. Several plot threads revolve specifically around the matter of pregnancy. One character refuses to be married because she doesn't want to become pregnant, her lover refuses to marry her UNLESS he can get her pregnant, another character must find a way to impregnate another otherwise he'll be killed... It goes on. In the daimon world, if you get married, you're able to breed, and if you don't breed, the marriage can be dissolved and you'll be married off again UNTIL you breed. It's a really weird thing to fixate on, especially in a YA novel, and I'd be more willing to go along with it if the characters were older. Honestly, the whole thing would probably work much better if everyone were adults, except for the Mallory plotlines (which I think are the least interesting part of the thing anyway). Won't be checking out the next book, and I think it's time for me to take Melissa Marr off of my "gotta read" list anyway. I haven't enjoyed anything she's written after Ink Exchange, which is a bummer. I like her ideas, but they just haven't panned out lately.
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Reading Progress

10/02/2012 page 168
54.0%
10/06/2012 page 286
93.0% "I've only had the last 2 chapters to finish for a couple days now and I STILL can't bring myself to finish it. Uggggggh. :( So disappointed."

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