4 September 2012
REVIEW: CARNIVAL OF SOULS
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Harper Collins
UK Release date: 4th September 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
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.
I have to admit I was a little dubious reading this one as I haven't exactly loved other books by the author in the past. But this book gripped me straight away, and I absolutely loved it.
The plot was a cleverly crafted, beautifully woven and complex web. The different subplots interplayed so fluidly that at points when I was thinking 'what the hell just happened?!', things came together and fitted like another piece in a jigsaw puzzle. The plot was a little like a chess game, with wild twists and turns happening as each character made their next move in the desire for power. (Sorry for all my game analogies, but as you can probably tell I think the plot was really well worked out, with such clever changes and huge surprises and revelations. Along with the world building and strong character motivations there were so many different layers to this story, but they all worked perfectly together.) There was also plenty of action and intrigue to keep me utterly captivated and guessing what might happen next, but honestly with this book I couldn't rightly predict anything!
To start, the world building with its history of wars and hostility between witches and daimons and changing between the human and daimon worlds, had me a little confused. But soon I became fascinated with The City and its Carnival of Souls. This daimon world was a little more brutal and violent than I had expected, and it harked back to medieval times where caste systems were still strongly adhered to and those at the bottom had to fight, steal, kill or whore themselves to survive. Danger lurked around every corner and the Carnival felt very dark and unpredictable. The stark contrast of the two worlds was brilliant, and although there was less action in Mallory's human world, it didn't make it any less interesting.
Carnival of Souls featured a large cast of characters, and each one was well developed with distinct personalities and very focused motivations that catapulted the action and created the shocking plot twists. I felt a little sorry for Mallory, raised in the human world and pretty much oblivious to the truth. She'd been sheltered by Adam for her own protection and although he'd trained her, her ignorance made her practically defenceless against daimons or witches. She also had no say in her life - Adam pretty much controlled what she did, who she saw and where they lived, and even Kaleb started making decisions that impacted her life without her knowledge or consent. Although this felt right within the plot and with an understanding of why Kaleb was making these decisions, it still felt wrong that Mallory was often used by people as a tool. I respected the fact that she didn't just fall straight into Kaleb's arms, and I would have liked to have seen a little more happen or shared between the pair to better understand why Kaleb liked her so much.
In terms of Kaleb, he was very dangerous and violent. But his past and low social standing left him pretty much no other option on how to survive in The City, so I couldn't help but feel for him. I also admit that I kind of fell for his tough exterior and caring protectiveness over pack member Zevi. He was an enigma, scheming away and making dangerous power plays, but I think his boldness and determination attracted me to him.
At first I was also a little uncertain of Aya, because she was so forthright, cold and brutal. But she grew on me as the story progressed and I admired her strength and courage. She wasn't immune to caring, asking for help but she was very clever.
With some of the characters I couldn't tell what they might be up to and whether they could be completely trusted but this just intrigued me more. I can't wait to read the next book and see what happens to the individual characters and in the greater was between witches and daimons.
Carnival of Souls is beautifully crafted and deliciously dark. A must read for this year.
Carnival of Souls is out today and can be bought as an ebook too :)