06 November 2012

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

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.
My first experience with Melissa Marr came in the form of her novel, Wicked Lovely.  I was left unimpressed with it and uninspired to pick up anymore of her books, but I've learned from experience that an author can start out a bit rusty and develop into this whirlwind of awesomeness.  Unfortunately, the whirlwind hasn't come for Melissa Marr yet.  Five years between publications and I'm having the same problems with Carnival of Souls that I had with Wicked Lovely.  Interestingly enough, they're the exact. same. problems:  Shallow characters and boring plot wrapped together in totally amateurish writing.

It took a bit of dedication on my part to get into the throes of the story.  From the scarcity of descriptions, I was left fumbling to anchor myself in any kind of atmosphere, making me hesitate to invest in the story.  The way the story was presented left me confused about the stakes -- when a character acted, I didn't get the supposed "risk" behind it.  Only by the time I was some two hundred pages in did I understood the switches and plot twists, but I couldn't feel them resonating through the characters as I should have.

I didn't sense any kind of depth from the characters and I think it was mostly due to the writing and not as much off the fact they were just shallow characters.  Marr's writing style lacks any sort of passion.  It was made up of all telling, losing much of the emotion, depth and shock value in the deadpan prose.  And while the story had an edge, the prose ill-fitted the story.  Everything was described to me, not shown, so I wasn't fully aware of how dark the The City was supposed to be, or how dangerous the witches were, or how Mallory felt as she lived a life in constant danger.  Everything fell flat.

Occasionally, romances can swoop in to save the day if the hero or heroine happens to be appealing.  This is not the case here.  Not only were Kaleb and Mallory as flat as the rest of them, but the romance was of the insta-love variety and a major turn off.  I grew immensely agitated at the "I love you's" carelessly thrown around and the proclamations of undying love and protection.  It just came to:  Ugh.

There was also little plot to speak of.  While events progressed in a linear fashion, the "mystery" was hardly a head-scratcher.  And not only that, but there was no climax.  Despite the fact that the rest of the story hadn't held the telltale signs of a story building to a tipping point, I paused a few pages away from the end and realized that I'd just read the climax.  It had passed me by without ceremony.  The mystery that had been apparent a hundred pages ago was revealed to little fanfare and the characters were now in a classic "this is just the beginning" kind of ending.  It's never a good sign when a reader breathes a sigh of relief as the book closes.

I was hoping that I would be blown away by Carnival of Souls, but it failed to deliver.  As a slew of books separate Carnival of Souls and Wicked Lovely and yet the latter shows no sign of improvement, I'm most likely not going to pick up another one of Melissa Marr's books.

Book Info

  • pages - hardcover, 306
  • published - September 2012
  • publisher - HarperCollins
  • genre - paranormal romance
  • received via - library
  • rating - 2/5