Plot: Witches and daimons have been at war for centuries. Mallory has been raised by a witch to hate and fear daimons. She has spent her entire life on the run them, convinced that they mean to kill her and her step-father. But her father has been keeping secrets from her, secrets she couldn’t even begin to imagine. In the City, Aya has her own secrets. As a ruling class daimon, she could have led a charmed life, married the man she loved and had a child. But she doesn’t want those things, doesn’t dare want them. She enters a battle to the death in order to gain power on her own terms. Both young women are tied to each other in ways they couldn’t imagine and their fates may determine that of the City itself.
This review is based on an ARC received at BEA 2012.
I’m a huge fan of Marr’s Wicked Lovely series (you can read my reviews of Radiant Shadows and Darkest Mercy). I thought she did an incredible job at modernizing faerie lore and I loved the unique and complicated relationships between the characters. In her new series, she takes on witches and demons. I’m not yet as attached to these characters as I am to Marr’s fairies but I feel the series holds promise.
Marr presents us with a cast of powerful characters, each with their own secrets and weaknesses. Though some are more ruthless than others, they are all somewhat morally ambiguous. It’s interesting to see where each one draws the line. Aya has rank and love and yet she is willing to risk it all, to kill, in order to keep her secrets and gain real power. Kaleb will kill too but for the chance at freedom, at a better life for himself and his pack. Mallory doesn’t know her own power, doesn’t understand her importance. She is torn between her feelings for her step-father and for Kaleb, for whom she feels a powerful attraction.
All the characters and their relationships have a lot of potential but I never really got caught up in their emotions. I felt that Marr spends too much time explaining the rules of her fictional world and how the characters fit into it (or don’t) and not enough showing us how they interact with the world and each other. But I’m not worried. I’m sure there are amazing things to come in the second book.
Meanwhile, the world Marr created is fascinating. Through it, she begins to explore issues of class and gender as well as the racial hatred caused by centuries of violence. There is also a lot of exciting action and countless life-or-death battles. You’ll never be bored in the Carnival of Souls… though you may lose your money, or your life. 😉
While reading, I was reminded a little of Laini Taylor’s amazing Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If you enjoyed Taylor’s novel definitely give Marr’s new series a try. Carnival of Souls will be released in September 2012.