Carnival of Souls
by Melissa Marr
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.