Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

carnival-of-souls-melissa-marrCarnival of Souls
by Melissa Marr
2012

I picked this up randomly at the library because I remembered enjoying Marr’s previous book Wicked Lovely. And Carnival of Souls was fabulous to begin with. And then it got really kind of skeevy. And then it ended abruptly without any resolution.

I assume there were plans for a second book or two in this “series” but really it should be another part or two in this book. (Instead, there was apparently a reprint of the same book with a different title, Carnival of Secrets.)

Things this book does really well:
The characters are all full characters such that even when they consider each other their enemies, the reader is left rooting for each of them and not sure what to do about the conflicts between them. Because they’re all trying to survive in a really rough world!

On a related note: the world-building in which there are witches and daimons (and humans, but they hardly matter) and they hate each other. They each think the other are dangerous creatures that need to be put down, and you can see the point of view given that there are protagonists on all sorts of sides within this conflict.

Thing this book does not-so-well:
Keeping me rooting for all the protagonists. I started out really rooting for all of these characters, and understanding why they’re making some pretty messed up choices given the situations they’re finding themselves in. But as time goes by and they keep on making ever more horrible decisions for poorer reasons, I lose a fair bit of respect for a lot of them.

Thing this book does terribly:
Come to any sort of resolution. The book ends on a big reveal, but it’s the kind of reveal that generally acts as the turning point of a book rather than the conclusion. About 50 pages before the end, I was already getting suspicious because Marr kept on adding complexities rather than even advancing the timeline such that a resolution was possible. This is something that I generally see in long but unfinished fanfic, but didn’t expect in a published novel. It was annoying. This was essentially half a book and doesn’t stand on it’s own.

Disappointing given how much I was enjoying it to begin with.

4 comments on “Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

  1. Anna says:

    I was really curious to see how a book could go so wrong so quickly, so I just finished this yesterday, and, man, you are right on all points! A really interesting world and relatively sympathetic characters for about two-thirds of the book, then a quick u-turn where I suddenly hate pretty much all the characters, and then it just ends. Even with your warning above, I was speculating that perhaps they would all be killed in the last couple pages, but that would have been too satisfying an end.

    I will also add that it was so similar to Daughter of Smoke and Bones that I was side-eyeing it a bit for plagiarism, but despite my lukewarm review, Daughter of Smoke and Bones was significantly better and also has two sequels already published.

    • Rebecca says:

      Which reminds me that I really do need to read Daughter of Smoke and Bones. That first chapter is hard to get through, though.

      • Anna says:

        I have to say that I’m a little comforted by you struggling with it, too, though I thought you wouldn’t so much, since you don’t have nearly the issue with Mary Sue that I do. Is it just so Mary Sue that even you can’t handle it, or are you having different issues?

        • Rebecca says:

          The classic Mary Sue is perfect in all ways, except for possibly a few cutesy weaknesses. But while the narration treats the main character of Daughter of Smoke and Bone like she’s a Mary Sue, her actions and decisions in the first chapter are so idiotic that it makes me wince. Is this behavior that the author thinks is smart or witty or even acceptable? Really?

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