REVIEW #169: Carnival of Souls (Untamed City #1) by Melissa Marr

Title: Carnival Of Souls
Series: Untamed City #1
Author: Melissa Marr
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: September 4, 2012
Pages: 306, Hardcover
Source: Library

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.

Carnival of Souls is far from your average paranormal book. If you take your average book and beat it with some awesome, saturate it with badass-ness, and give a kick of crazy, you will get Carnival of Souls. It is darkly intoxicating, irresistibly unforgiving, and richly unsettling.

The plot rests on an age-old war between witches and daimons. As the book progresses, we discover longstanding plans that have been carefully put in place to thwart the opposing group. But in addition to the war, within each kind you find political unrest and mistrust. Ambitious individuals trying to climb the ranks. Siblings trying to gain power for themselves. Fragile truces starting to break apart. Secrets being revealed. And unlikely alliances beginning to form. The different forces at play create endless excitement and tons of surprises.

The characters in this book were great. Aya was a little firecracker and kicks some serious butt. Kaleb is your resident bad boy – dark and dangerous.  Mallory didn’t have as much fire, but it wasn’t her fault she was so sheltered. The contrast between the three kept things interesting, especially as their individual journey’s wove together. They all had different histories, secrets, reasons. And the different POVs painted a pretty clear picture of the world as it was.  

One of my only qualms was the romance that formed between Kaleb and Mallory. This wasn’t just insta-love, it was like insta-marriage. And part of the explanation for it reminded me of the imprinting that the wolves in Twilight do. Fair or not, I was kind of turned off by it. And I liked Kaleb as a bad boy, not a huge sap.

The things that make up this book are not necessarily new but the combination is very unique. And the book was surprisingly much darker than I had anticipated it would be and I loved that.  I was constantly entertained and I cannot wait for the announcement of the sequel. This was my first Melissa Marr experience and it was an extraordinarily good one.



  1. I read this book last year and wasn't terribly crazy about it. While I generally liked the world Marr created, I found about 50% of the characters unlikable (i.e. - Mallory & Kaleb). I much preferred Aya's story and was completely turned off by the insta-love factor here.

    I thought the stuff that took place in the daimon world was fantastic and far more entertaining than the stuff that took place in the human world. Overall, the experience was okay but the sequel isn't at the top of my TBR list. Maybe one day though...

    1. Agreed, Mallory and the human world paled in comparison to the story of Aya and the daimon world. I liked Kaleb though, or at least I enjoyed his story. I'm not going to run out an buy the sequel when it comes out but i'll definitely be checking my local library for a copy!

    2. If/when you get around to the sequel, let me know how it measures up. If you think it's worthwhile, I'll definitely check it out.

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this book. I really liked this one! I liked that it was darker than a lot of the young adult books I read. I can see what you are saying about the insta-love though, that is never a turn on for me. :) I also agree with Nikki that the human world plot wasn't nearly as good as the daimon world. I too really liked Kaleb though.

    1. Agreed. Darker YA is always a plus for me. Great minds think alike! :D

  3. Psssstt, in your last sentence: Marissa Meyer is someone else :p It's Melissa Marr, haha.

    Insta-marriage, wow! To make insta-love even worse. Despite that, I like the sound of this book and the characters look interesting enough :)

    1. haha I am still embarrassed by my mistake. thanks again for clueing me in. but yeah this one was fun

  4. This one sounds really good (except for the insta-marriage part and Kaleb turning into a sap). But I guess if I know that going in, maybe it won't be as bad. The world sounds fascinating and I like the fact that it's darker. Great review! ~Pam

    1. it's not a big part of the story, it's just there. this one isn't too heavily romance focused!

  5. Ooooh! Great review! I just picked up a copy of this and can't wait to read this...especially after reading your review!

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