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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 ...
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.
Almost seventeen years later.
Mallory had an hour to herself after school before she had to be at practice, so she'd ducked into the only independent coffee shop in Smithfield for some overpriced, over sweetened coffee. Admittedly, she'd spent more of the hour thinking about Kaleb than doing her homework, but AP Physics wasn't nearly as interesting as the first boy she'd felt at ease around. She'd even told him the names of a couple of the towns where she'd lived over the years - and talked about her family. And the moment she'd done that, she'd realized she needed to stay away from him. Anyone who made her let her guard down that much was dangerous.
As she returned her empty mug to the counter, she looked out the large front window and saw Kaleb standing across the street from Java Junkies as if she'd conjured him with her thoughts. Admittedly, Smithfield was a tiny town, so she bumped into Kaleb every time he was home from school, which seemed to be a lot lately. Still, Mallory felt the same warm flush of excitement she did every time she saw him and then quashed it.
Bad idea. Very, very bad.
She lowered her gaze, suddenly finding the words painted on the door fascinating, and stepped onto the sidewalk with her eyes still downcast. She should be scanning the area for danger, but all she wanted to do was look at Kaleb. She stole a glance at him and debated going over to at least say hello. Nothing could come of it. She knew it - but she couldn't bring herself to tell him that. It was foolishness, but she wanted something to come of it. She'd never felt so instantly at ease or so embarrassingly attracted to anyone. Telling him to go away wasn't something she could bring herself to do - despite how inevitable it was. Instead, she walked away, forcing herself not to look at him. She let her gaze wander over the flowers in planters along the street, the man in the rumpled suit playing his cello for change, the debris that accumulated in gutters ... anything but the boy who had occupied all of her free thoughts the past month.
She hadn't gone more than a few steps when Kaleb caught up with her. "Are you ignoring me?"
His voice always made her want to shiver. Kaleb's voice was like dark chocolate, so rich that she felt strangely sinful listening to him talk about the most mundane things. She resisted the temptation to close her eyes.
He stepped closer to her. "So you didn't just see me and walk away?"
"Maybe," Mallory half admitted.
If she needed to, she could put him on the ground, but Kaleb wasn't an enemy. He was just a guy. She stole another glance at him. Just a guy? He was six feet of lean muscle, perpetually unruly hair, and eyes that were too dark to be called brown. To add to his allure, he had a ferocity to him that slipped out when he looked around the street. He'd only ever been sweet to her, but he had an attitude that hinted at an ability to wade into trouble; it gave her a foolish hope that he could handle the world she knew, even as logic warned her that she was clinging to illusions.
Until she'd met Kaleb, she'd actually worried that something was wrong with her. Her classmates had started talking about boys - or girls - a few years ago, but she was almost seventeen and, until the past month, she'd never had the sort of reactions they all talked about. The forget-your-name nervousness, the racing heart, the why-did-I-say-that - it was as foreign to her as a life without witches ... until Kaleb. He made her wish for things that were impossible, for a life that she could never have.
The sound of the cars on the street drew her attention, and her gaze slipped away to check the shadows for threats.
"Yes?" Her hand went to the pendant she wore under her blouse. The reasons she shouldn't see him, the need to see him, the way she'd had to lie to him - thinking about all of that made her feel horrible inside.
"I'm glad I found you," he said.
He moved in so he stood just a shade closer than could be considered polite, and she wondered what he'd do if she thanked him for evoking the blush worthy thoughts she was having. She realized that he was watching her expectantly, but she wasn't able to admit that she was happy to see him too. Instead, she said, "I didn't expect you."
"I just got into town," he said.
She started, "I need to go -"
"Do you want to go somewhere?" he asked at the same time.
They both stopped. She shifted the bag on her shoulder, surreptitiously adjusting the hilt of the knife she wore hidden under her arm. Her jacket concealed it, but sometimes the top of the hilt poked the underside of her bra. That was one of the many things she didn't want to discuss. So, why are you wearing a knife? She smiled at Kaleb, continuing the imaginary discussion in her mind. In case I need to protect us from monsters ... not that I've had to fight them yet, but, you know, just in case.
"Mallory?" Kaleb stared at her in that too-intense-for-comfort way he had done since they'd first met a little over a month ago. Everything about him seemed intense though. When he listened to her talk, he acted like what she was saying was really important, even when it was just meaningless chatter about a show she'd watched on television or an article she'd read online. The thrill of being the center of his attention made her want to linger longer, even when she knew that she couldn't truly date him. Still, she suspected that even a small friendship with Kaleb would be better than dating any other boy. He gestured away from the tiny downtown where the coffee shop was. "Do you want to walk or something? Even if you only have a few minutes, we could -"
"I can't," she interrupted and then silently added, I need to go practice killing things.
The temptation to skip practice crossed her mind, but that would lead to questions from her father, and those would lead to either admitting she'd met someone who interested her enough to skip practice or it would mean lying to her father. Neither of those seemed like very good ideas. But as Kaleb stared at her, frowning in frustration or maybe in confusion, she wished rather desperately that she could lie to her father - or tell Kaleb everything.
Instead, she admitted, "I have practice, and I'm already going to be late. Maybe next time we could do something. If you want to, I mean. I'm not sure if I can then either, but I want to."
"I'll ask again," he promised.
And then she turned and walked away from Kaleb as quickly as she could without seeming like she was running. She hadn't exactly mentioned that she couldn't date him, but that was just because there was no way to say it without sounding weird. It wasn't because she harbored a tiny hope of something more. Really. She smiled to herself. Kaleb wants to see me again.
A short while later, Mallory had temporarily forced away thoughts of the beautiful human boy she shouldn't date and concentrated on the task at hand: proving to her father that she was making progress with the semiautomatic.
"You need to get over it, Mals." Adam didn't scowl at her, but the censure was there all the same. "The revolver only has six rounds. Sometimes six won't be enough."
She accepted the gun, but it felt wrong in her hands. It always felt wrong. The weight of it didn't comfort her the way the heavier revolver did.
"They aren't like humans," Adam reminded her - unnecessarily. He'd spent most of her life teaching her how to defend herself against daimons. She knew that they were stronger and faster than any human could hope to be. Witches stood more than a fair chance against them, but Mallory wasn't a witch.
She sighted down on her target, inhaled, held her breath, and squeezed. "Just like taking a picture."
She'd learned the inverse though: she'd applied firearms lessons to photography, not the other way around. Daimons weren't scared away by a 35mm camera. A steady aim with a 9mm pistol, on the other hand, could – hopefully - save her life someday. No matter how ready she felt, fear crept over her every time she thought about facing daimons.
"Again," Adam prompted. "You need to focus. By the time you realize what they are, you'll need to act fast. They look like us ... and like you."
The pause was slight, but she heard it. Us and you. Her mother wasn't a witch, and Adam wasn't her bio-dad, so she wasn't an us. She also wasn't really able to be a them. She might be human, but Adam was a witch. That meant she was caught living among the witches, preparing to fight daimons with only a human's defenses. Sometimes, guiltily, she admitted to herself that this wasn't the life she wanted. A stray thought of Kaleb flitted through her mind, but she knew without asking her father that he'd never agree to her changing her training or workout schedules so she had time to date.
Steadily, she sighted, fired, and moved to the next target. Then once she reached the end of the row, she worked her way back. Mallory hated the ease with which the semiautomatic discharged bullets. It felt like everything went too quickly, but if the paper targets in front of her were daimons, she knew she'd appreciate that extra speed.
Adam began calling numbers. "Target three, eight, two, one, eight, six."
As he called them, she aimed and fired. It was an exercise that required reaction and focus. Admittedly, it was easier with the 9mm in her hand, but she still felt tense.
She switched guns, sliding the 9mm into an under-the-arm holster and transitioning to the .357 that she wore in a thigh holster. The familiar weight of it was all she needed to summon that meditative space where the world was reduced to hand-gun-target. She had learned hand-to-hand skills, but her father insisted that most daimons had superior training and more physical strength than a human could counter. She had to be proficient with weapons too. Witches had magic; daimons had physicality; and humans had guns.
She emptied the last chamber in the revolver and glanced at her father. The furrow in his brow said what he didn't: he wasn't happy about her switching guns.
"I'm more comfortable with this." She lowered the barrel so it aimed at the ground.
Adam said nothing as she opened the cylinder and discharged the empty casings. He remained quiet as she pulled six bullets from her jeans pocket and reloaded. When Mallory closed the cylinder, he said, "I should never have bought you that gun. If I'd started you with the nine mil, you wouldn't use this as a crutch. The revolver was to be a starter, like training wheels."
She gestured at the targets. "I'm capable with both guns. I just like this one better."
When he didn't reply, she walked over to the targets. Using the barrel as a pointer, she tapped the first target. "Not one outside the 'preferred zone.' Tight." She went down the line, tapping each paper in the row. "I can use the nine; I just don't like it as well."
Adam sighed. "If you knew what they were like, Mals ..." He shook his head. "I hope you never have to face them alone, but if you do, you'll be grateful for a clip, and hopefully you'll be packing an extended clip."
She softened at his worried look. "I know, and I will be prepared. Promise." For a brief moment she considered asking him questions she had never verbalized, but like every other time she'd considered it, the questions skittered away before she could speak them. She wanted to know why she'd never met daimons, why she couldn't go to his office, why they couldn't find a way to live a different life, but her tongue wouldn't form the words. A band seemed to tighten around her chest.
Good daughters don't question. They obey.
Her father held her gaze, and when she didn't speak, he nodded once. "I need you to be prepared."
Mallory straightened her shoulders and met her father's gaze. "I won't let you down."
He ejected the clip from the 9mm and replaced it with an extended clip. "Notice that it took a moment to reload this. Sometimes a single moment makes a difference. Daimons aren't like witches or humans, Mallory. You can't forget that." "I won't," she promised. The pressure around her chest faded.
He held the 9mm pistol out to her.
Lips pursed, she accepted it. Daimons might be more capable at hand-to-hand, but she wasn't planning on allowing any of them close enough for that to matter.
"Empty it," he ordered.
Mallory aimed and emptied half the clip. After fifteen bullets tore through the existing holes in the target, daylight shone through the center of the paper as if it were an open window. She did the same thing to a second target, and then lowered the gun. Maybe if she was good enough, her father would let her take a little time to go out, to at least build a friendship with Kaleb instead of settling for a few moments when they crossed paths. She glanced at Adam.
He nodded. "Again."
Several hours and several clips later, Adam and Mallory returned to the three-bedroom house they rented in Smithfield, yet another of the interchangeable towns in the middle of the country. Like almost every other house the past few years, this one was nondescript. It was nice, clean, and in good order, but it was anonymous in a way she sometimes hated. The walls were white, and the carpets were beige. There were no houseplants or bric-a-brac that said "this is a home." Takeout menus were held to the front of the fridge by strips of tape, clips, and magnets. It added to the already generic feel of the house.
It had been five years since they'd had a real home. That was the real difference: Selah had turned whatever rental they'd had into an actual home. She'd bought paint and rollers, and she'd spent days turning a plain house into a real home.
Excerpted from Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr. Copyright © 2012 by Melissa Marr. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted September 10, 2012
My First Thoughts:
Well, let me start by saying that I was extremely excited to read this one. The cover is freaking awesome, I loved the title and concept. Plus, I had seen so much promo for this book that I felt as though I had been waiting forever by the time my copy finally arrived on my doorstep! So, was the wait worth it? Absolutely! I liked Carnival of Souls after the prologue, and was in love by chapter 3. It just kept getting better and better with every page I turned!
This is one of the most original books I have read in quite a while. The world was absolutely brilliant! The City where the daemons live was crafted so brilliantly that I felt as if it was somewhere I had actually been in real life. The Carnival of Souls is the center of the city. It is where all of the commerce happens. Oh yes, commerce, such as: murder for hire, prostitution, and drugs. See that may make some people think, wow I don't know if this is for me... Well let me just say that all these things made the story that much more real, the characters lives more desolate, and their situations more desperate. It is important to know what is normal for the daemon society, so the reader can understand just how hard it is to change your lot in life in the city.
The characters were written in such a way that even if they were doing something that you would consider to be morally wrong, it is impossible not feel compassion for WHY they were doing it. This is what really made this book brilliant. It was told from alternating perspectives while never being first person narration. I feel this was a brilliant move because it lets you see so many different views of the same world that it is truly opened up into something with many layers. You really get to know each character intimately. This was such a refreshing way to read a story and I honestly feel like I've never read a book with a character focus like this. After reading the book, I feel as though even if I may not LOVE every character in the book, I completely understand them and their motives.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It was sinfully dark and full of love at the same time. There was such an honesty in even the worst situations that they were always beautiful. This book made me laugh out loud and shed a tear in the same chapter! I truly loved Carnival of Souls and it comes highly recommended from me! Anyone who loves YA Paranormal and is looking for something refreshing and different, this is the one for you!
39 out of 41 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 26, 2012
This, at first, sounded as if the book was the mythical version of hunger games. I was wrong. It's a great read, highly recommended. (:
13 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 12, 2012
When I got this book I had no idea what I was getting into. But am I ever glad I didn't! Just when I thought Melissa Marr couldn't get any better, she proved me wrong.
If I had to choose the right words to describe how each of the characters were developed I would say, PERFECT!!!! Each one had a story to tell and each one was unique to him or her. The way each one had views on daimons and witches was amazing and made me want more.
I knew Melissa could write dark, but I had no idea she could make you want more. Just imagine a fight, imagine the words floeing together to make it seem real. The way she wrote it made me feel as though I was watching it in real life.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who loves drama, suspense, and a challenge. Because Melissa's books always give the reader a challenge to keep on reading. Go check it out!!!
12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 5, 2012
With other reviews all over the place, I decided to give the book a chance. Unfortunately, I agree with the lower scores. The book was all over the place as were the points of veiw of the main characters. Melissa Marr should stick to her fairy romance books, because action books do not show her strong writing skills. If I didn't know of her other works, I would have thought this was a her debut book.
6 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 23, 2012
But did not like it as much as the other reviewers. It was ok but the writing was a bit sketchy here and there which made me have to reread pages to understand what was going on. The ending was not good. Just not the best book Ive read in a while but I was hoping it would be.
6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 8, 2012
Melissa Marr is definitely one if my top ten authors. She paints such a vivid picture. I am amazed at the the talent and ability it takes to create these different worlds that she comes up with. Wicked Lovely was an amazing series and clearly this author has not peaked. This book was a page turner i couldnt stop reading and finished it in a day! I cannot wait to see whats in store for Mallory; her relationship with Kaleb and her relationship with her father adam. I yearn to to see the love between bel and aya survive the challenges they are going through. If u purchase this book u will not be dissapointed. Meliss marr deserves an award ! More please!
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2012
Really slow to get started, seemed like I was waiting forever for the story to start. Characters aren't as flushed out as you would think for somthing that took so long to build up to. An interesting story and plot though, quick read
4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 19, 2012
Bought this on a whim in english class because i needed a new reading book...and IT WAS MY BEST PURCHASE!!! LOVED IT SOOO MUCH!!!!!!! CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT ONE!
4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 2012
This book is incredibly stupid with very little character development or world building.
3 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2012
At first it took me about 2 chapters to get into the book, after that I was hooked. Very good read, and I am anticipating the next book! Hurry up Marr!! :)
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 15, 2012
What I Liked: 1) Well, first of all, this was anything but "watered down." There was much more emotion from the characters in this story, and that's something that I always love to see. Seeing the characters connect to each other (and I don't always mean in a good way) made it a lot easier for me to jump in and connect with the characters. 2) Emotional connection aside, the way that all of these characters are connected to each other - I guess spatially would be the best word to use - was awesome. There were all these overlapping storylines that we as the reader have an easy time following, but we are watching the characters try and unravel them. On top of the overarching storyline, this was a very fun addition to the plot. 3) Aya. Aya was my favorite character, with her kick-butt fighting skill and the secrets that she is trying to protect. She was multi-dimensional, giving the reader a lot of ways to connect with her. 4) The setting. We were jumping between The City, and the human world. So there wasn't anything special really about the human world (ah, the reason I tend to like spec fic comes to light!) but The City is shady and mysterious, and was one of the biggest questions I had about the story. I would love to just walk around it and peer around corners. You know, explore. Though it was pretty dangerous, according to Kaleb and Zevi!
What I Didn't Like: Well, there are still so many questions left unanswered that just made me anxious for the next one. Like any good cliffhanger!
Overall Thoughts: Melissa Marr really hit one out of the park with Carnival of Souls. Her level of creativity cannot be denied as you get wrapped up in this story of a magical world competing with the human world. With an intriguing cast of characters that span the magical spectrum, Carnival of Souls has a character that everyone can feel connected with, and a story that will ensnare you from the beginning. This series is one I know I'm going to love!
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 10, 2012
Posted December 9, 2012
Carnival of Souls has to be one of the most creative books i have ever read. The daimons, the City, Mallory's relationship with Adam and hints at Katsa's relationship with Mallory was just blowing my mind. There were some things i didnt like, but i dont even remember them. I am DYING to read the sequel and solve all of these riddles, and if you havent read the book yet, read it now.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2013
This novel breathes a new life and desire for Melissa Marr's work for me. I did appreciate the Wicked Lovely series but this book put me under a spell (no pun intended)! When I read the summary for Carnival of Souls I was deeply interested in the subject- it is so much different than what I'm used to!
I love a book that isn't predictable in the beginning and that is exactly what I got. I not only love the subcultures she created, but also the navigation and scheming by the characters therein. Entrancing and nearly impossible to put down, I spent time thinking about the storyline as I was going about my day and couldn't wait to delve back in. I cannot wait for the sequel! Fantastic read!
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 30, 2012
Posted December 25, 2012
Posted December 25, 2012
These chikdren playing their stupid cat games neefs to take it eksewhere. Ppl come here to review books,nit to have to scroll thru dozens of crap posts not pertaining to the book. Take it to facebook, or start a web page, but get off here!!!!!!!"!"!"
2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 23, 2012