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.
This is so not what I expected when I picked up this book. Gorgeous writing, of course. I totally expected that from the fabulous Melissa Marr (yes, I’m a fangirl.). But the three entwining stories are both grittier and darker than I expected (not sure why I expected anything light. Marr doesn’t generally write light and a title like CARNIVAL OF SOULS should have been an indicator).
The class system in The City is very much like the castes of India and the expectations of highborn females is downright old school. Highborn Aya, one of the three POV’s, is determined to escape this fate and enters a deadly competition to do so. Of The City but of the lowest class, Kaleb also wants to escape his lot in life via the competition but takes a little side job to find Mallory. When he finds her, there’s a bit of insta-love and he hauls her back to his cave to protect her. Rather literally. Including marrying her on the sly and promising to knock her up ASAP. A little WTF-ish, especially for Mallory.
The ridiculous societal “norms” force Aya, Mallory and Kaleb to grow stronger with each battle as they fight for what they most desire. Fabulous.
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