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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
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  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr + Giveaway!

My first Melissa Marr book and it took me on a different, delightful ride.

Title: Carnival of Souls (Carnival of Souls #1) by Melissa Marr
Pages: 306
Release Date: September 4th 2012
Published by: HarperCollins
Source: Publisher for tour (Thanks Christine & Pinoy Book Tours!)
Buy locally: National Book Store | Fully Booked


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.

Welcome to the Carnival of Souls, a place where you can procure anything and everything for a price, where people crave blood and violence, a place where a dangerous game opens up every year for those who wants to rise in power. For Aya, winning the competition means breaking free of the role set for her as a breeder, even if it means hurting Belias, her intended one. For Kaleb, to rise from a lowly existence, to rule, to protect his packmate, Zevi. Their lives will be inexplicably tangled with Mallory, a girl who has secrets that will prove deadly to both Aya and Kaleb.

The backdrop of the story was what first grabbed my attention. Carnival of Souls slips in and out of two worlds, one where the Daimons rule, and the other, the normal world, where the Witches thrive. The lines blur between the modern world of the Witches against the seemingly otherworldly one for the Daimons. There's a big contrast between both, and the City seemed more attractive and fascinating, making me feel how bland the modern world seem. Melissa Marr created two different settings and connected them. It's hard to make sense of at first, but like Kaleb traveling from one to the other, it takes time to get used to, but it's still quite interesting how both co-exist in one story.

With a lush and intriguing setting in place, Melissa Marr then introduces us to the lives of Aya, Kaleb, Zevi, Mallory and Belias. You'd think that with quite a handful of characters, the story will feel scattered and unfocused, but it's the opposite. The author took great care in developing their back stories well, it's amazing how much has been revealed considering that she only has 300 pages to work on. There's a strong foundation for each of the characters, and it allows readers to form an impression for each one of them. I despised Aya's character initially, as I couldn't see how she can throw away a life of luxury to fight in the Carnival. She was throwing away the very thing that Kaleb works hard for. I could not understand her reasons for it, and how she was able to devoid herself of emotions just to get what she wants. Kaleb and Zevi's connection to each other still confuses me, but they had a bond deeper than family which is admirable. The motivations behind Kaleb's desire to rise above his station was pitiful but very understandable. They had done what they could to survive, and they won't stop until they reach their goal, even if it meets getting bruised, battered and broken in the process. One of the disappointments I had in this book was how I felt when I read about Mallory. I had such high hopes for her, but Mallory's character failed to rouse the same curiousity I had with Aya, Kaleb and Zevi. She was too good, too unaware, too weak. For someone who is an integral part of the core story, her character felt lacking compared to the three, even to Belias. His relationship with Aya was what saddened me at times. The star crossed lovers angle never fails to grab my attention.

There was enough conflict and tangled ties to keep a reader occupied in this novel. I can imagine how each fight inside the Carnival happens as I soak in every word and description of it all. Cruelty and violence go hand in hand in this book. There were conflicts within existing conflicts and readers will need to work their way through the complicated relationships between rulers and followers, mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, packmates, lovers and friends. There's much going on in the story, as stories still exists within it that readers must keep up with the pace and each development as the story pushes through. Surprisingly, despite all of the intricacies woven inside Carnival of Souls, it was not the least difficult to read, and there was never a dull moment in it.

Carnival of Souls gave me a one of a kind experience. Readers can spend hours trying to understand the beauty and ugliness of life within the City and decoding the conflicts which lead to the mutual hatred between the Daimons and the Witches. Each character had a mystery that is yet to be unlocked in this novel, a secret that is yet to be revealed, but what Melissa Marr gave to a reader like me was enough to keep me anticipating for more. Even with an abrupt ending, I know that what's in store for the readers in the second book is something worth waiting for! With a beguiling storyline and a myriad of unique characters all living within a world unlike any other, Carnival of Souls is a strong, appealing start to a charming series!

My rating
I am just not convinced with Mallory's character, but I am giving her a chance to redeem herself in the next book.  The Carnival, the City, the Untamed Lands and the human world all clash with each other and gives such a challenging world to the story.

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Okay: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I now understand why the cover had to be a mask.


We are giving away a finished, paperback copy of Carnival of Souls!


Open to PH residents only. (Sorry US/International peeps)
Ends 10/20


  1. Replies
    1. Can't wait to know what you think of CoS! :)

    2. hmmmm.. hehehe.. will let you know soon! :D

  2. Awesome review! Can't wait to read ut myself. :)

  3. I've read positive reviews about the book and including this one. It's great you liked it! Thanks for the review and giveaway!Can't wait to read it too!

  4. I know I've read it but I still wanna win. I'm so nervous on how to write my review. Haha! :D

    1. I feel you. And I think I am the one who is a bit skeptical about it :(

  5. I read the synopsis when I was rummaging on the lifestyle section of a newspaper and I thought to myself after reading it: "Must read this, SOON!" :)
    So I'm really delighted to find out that you are hosting a giveaway for this and there's an opportunity for PH readers to win! Thanks!

    -Riz Bulatao

  6. I hope that Mallory is better in the next book :) I haven't read anything from this author yet, but I'm really excited about this one! Great review.

  7. I haven't read this yet nor anything else from Melissa Marr and that's why I really want to win! Thank you for the giveaway!

  8. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  9. Ooh, awesome review+giveaway!
    I've been wanting to read this book for some time but now I've pushed it up my TBR pile. =))
    Thanks for this!


  10. Wow, talk about a more fantasy-filled The Hunger Games :)) I'll make sure to read this soon!

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. I was about to steer clear of this book because the blurb didn't really appeal to me but I'm a fan of good character-building so I might as well give this one a shot...

      Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  12. Oh, WONDERFUL review, Kai! I'm so excited to read this, but it's interesting what you're saying about Mallory--I know you're not the only one who felt the same ♥

    1. Saz!!!! *hugs* Yeah, I never liked Mallory's mantra "good girls do what they're told" or something like that. She was supposed to be trained to defend herself yet she's knocked out half of the time, forgetting everything. I don't like how clueless and weak they made her out to be.

  13. Great review! This book gives me the same vibes as 'The Night Circus', which I absolutely adored! I have a feeling I'll love this too. :)

  14. I've seen this one at NBS when I dropped by last weekend. The cover is really eye-catching :D And it sounds really good! Plus, it involves witches so I MUST read this one. Thanks for a great review, Kai!

  15. The review was great, will be adding to my tbr list. Thanks.
    magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

  16. Sounds like an interesting book. Great review.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Another book from Melissa Marr, definitely a must read! and the storyline sounds interesting! btw, Great Review! :)

  19. This book is making a buzz in the blogosphere lately and I was really curious about it. It sounds so promising. :)

    Great review! :)

  20. i cant wait to read this. Impressing synopsis :D

  21. I want it badly! My dad can't buy me one that's why I wanted to have my own. Your review helps a lot to increase my interest in reading it! :)

  22. Thank you! I want to read this book badly! :)

  23. I enjoyed the review. I'm glad there was enough conflict to keep the reader interested.

  24. my second attempt for a giveaway of this book. I really want it.

  25. Was the winner in this giveaway contacted already?

  26. OOoh interesting! I was curious about this one! I have been trying to cut back on what books I jump and grab right away since my TBR pile is out of control. This one, while I love Melissa's other books, had me pausing.

    Grace Crawford Affordable Bankruptcy Chicago Lorraine Greenberg


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