Carnival of Souls
Released: September 4, 2012
Source: the library
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I started reading this book. I'm sure I skimmed some advanced reviews this past summer, but all that really stuck with me was the fiery cover and the fact that this was first Melissa Marr book I've ever read.
Marr creates a very imaginative and unique world in Carnival of Souls, complete with an extreme social structure and two different settings. On the one hand, you have Mallory, a coming of age girl in the human world who, while aware of an alternative paranormal world, is unaware how involved she actually is with it. On the other hand, there is The City, a place where the paranormal have gone to escape the human world. The City is home to the Carnival of Souls, where the paranormal can fight to the death to increase their social rankings.
It's at the Carnival of Souls that we meet Aya, a girl determined not to fit in with the norm. She knows whole-heartedly that breeding is not for her. She refuses to marry so she develops a plan to fight her way through the Carnival of Souls until she can reach the ruling class and break the rules all she wants. Aya was probably my favorite character in the novel as she was probably the most progressive character in all of The City. At first we're led to believe that Aya if fighting her fight for feminist reasons, which is why I was initially interested in her. Later, we learn there's much more to it... ah, the plot thickens!
As for Mallory, the girl living in the human world, I don't have strong feelings for her one way or another. Her adoptive father has been teaching her since a young age how to fight daimons, but I never got the sense that she was actually learning anything. I felt Mallory's character was underdeveloped and not enough time was devoted to her. She could have been my favorite if she appeared to have any semblance of a life outside of the life her father made for her. Ultimately, I found her weak.
A great example of that is her relationship with Kaleb. From Mallory's point of view, Kaleb shows up out of the blue claiming to have feelings for her and Mallory essentially just goes along with it. I never got any sense of chemistry between the two. I don't want to give anything major away, so I'll just say this - what Kaleb does behind Mallory's back, I found to be appalling and disturbing.
Three stars. I really think the lack of feminism in Carnival of Souls turned me off a bit. Quite frankly, the male dominance was overwhelming - requiring girls to "breed" at the age of eighteen - was a bit much. But that's not my problem. My problem is that none of these girls were leading any kind of revolution against these sexist ideas. It might not seem like it, but over all I did enjoy the novel and I think any fans of Melissa Marr will enjoy it, too.