Carnival of Souls (Carnival of Souls, #1)- Melissa Marr
Hours of defense training had made her feel confident that she could handle anything boys tried, but in all of what she’d learned, there weren’t any lessons on how to avoid feeling like a skeeze because you reacted to a boy’s kisses like a cat discovering catnip.
Plot: Mallory is far from average. While she looks pretty normal with dull brown hair and blah brown eyes her activities are nothing like most seventeen year old girls. Raised by a powerful magician, Mallory has always know there is magic in the world and that nothing is ever what it seems but above all else, she knows that daimons are the epitome of evil. Harboring this ingrained prejudice, Mallory’s life revolves around a steady routine of fleeting friendships, switching schools, and defense training with various firearms. When Mallory meets Kaleb her life is tossed into turmoil as her budding attraction threatens the safety her uncle has worked so hard to establish. Kaleb also has an uncanny ability to find her no matter where she is. Meanwhile, the world of the daimons is even more rife with violence and chaos as the competition for a coveted government spot heats up. Daimons of all castes battle gladiator style, claws out and brutality up. All Kaleb and Aya have ever wanted was a chance to help the daimons of their city, Kaleb being the lowest class of daimons only opportunity for power is through this contest and Aya, although upper class is prevented from a government seat because she is a woman; this competition is the loophole she’s been waiting for to infiltrate. While the story is essentially through several characters and their perspectives the main framework is Mallory’s heritage. Mallory’s true identity has been kept from her all 17 years of her life and as Kaleb and the witch’s council start to infringe upon her lifestyle she starts to question just how well she knows herself.
• There are several strong female characters (although Mallory doesn’t quite fit into this category). Both Aya and Mallory’s surrogate aunt fight against the bonds of a dominant male hierarchy, exuding confidence and strength well above their masculine counterparts. They’re determined and yearn for total control over their minds, bodies, and those beneath them.
• The Carnival of Souls is a place of sinister promises and intrigue. Where the darkest desires of the most poignant evils come to play; where prostitution, rape, murder, theft, and all sorts of wildly illicit activities flourish. The worlds of both the daimons and the witches are complex, elaborate and fueled by a smattering of legend and genius.
• Kaleb is compassionate, rugged, and headstrong. He knows what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it. Despite being born a cur-the lowest caste of daimon-he carries himself as a leader. He fights in the arena with bloody precision and envisions a better world for all daimon kind. Not only is he skilled in combat but he’s witty and exudes sex appeal.
• The biggest disappointment in the book is that Mallory is completely devoid of personality. While the story is told from multiple perspectives it is her story that spurs the others making her the ultimate protagonist. Apart from the fact that she’s completely oblivious and that she loves sugary coffee drinks, we know very little about her. In light of the other great female characters this doesn’t make her mysterious or interesting in the slightest but makes her appear weak and underdeveloped.
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