Review: Carnival of Souls (Carnival of Secrets) by Melissa Marr

Book Reviews

Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

5 Stars

Carnival of Souls is one of the most unique stories I’ve read this year so far. Melissa Marr has created this imaginative realm of daimons and witches, fights to the death, and so many secrets. It was amazinnnnnnnng!!

One of the things I loved about Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series was how many characters and love stories were in those books. In Carnival of Souls, we get the same thing. There isn’t just one boy and one girl, there’s two!! And their relationships are far beyond the normal romances in YA. There’s love, but there are secrets too. So many that I know I’ll be in heart-wrenching pain when the truth comes out, because it cannot end well for any of them.

Out of our two heroines, Mallory and Aya, I liked Aya most. Nothing against Mallory, but the problem with her character is that she’s pretty much in the dark about who she is throughout most of the book. She’s always being watched out for, and even though she’s more than capable of kicking someone’s ass, she’s almost babied the whole time. I actually fist-pumped at the end when she finally took control and started acting fierce.

Now Aya, started out fierce. The lengths she goes to to win a spot as a ruler of The City so that she doesn’t have to become just a wife and a mother with the daimon she loves are beyond most anyone’s capabilities, physically and emotionally. Aya is probably the one hiding the biggest secret of all, but you don’t have to wait long to learn what it is. I have my theories about her…parentage wise. But that’s all I’ll say about that because I don’t want to spoil anything.

Melissa Marr has a gift for creating male characters I instantly fall for, in spite of their flaws. Take Seth, Niall, Irial, and Keenan from Wicked Lovely for example. I LOVE ALL OF THEM! Ok, maybe not Keenan so much, lol, though I did feel for him. Here we have two new characters that had me swooning, Kaleb and Belias. I can’t help it…I love them already. And they couldn’t be more different from each other! Kaleb comes from the slums of The City. He’s a strong fighter and will do anything to protect and take care of his family. His heart is what really drew me to him. In turn, Belias is just a strong a fighter, but he is also high caste, meaning he’s practically royalty. What I found irresistible in him was his passion and devotion.

I loved the way they all had a voice in this book. I always want to hear what all the characters are going through and thinking. It makes the story so much more engrossing. Especially in one with so much depth. This book was also really bloody. It’s graphic, but not gross, which I really appreciated. I really loved the masks concept, that each color represented a service. That was really interesting and I hope we see more of it in future books.

Carnival of Souls swept me away into a realm that was terrifying and beautiful at the same time. Its intricacies left me in awe and in wanting for it to continue beyond the last page.

Book Info

Carnival of Souls (Secrets) by Melissa Marr
Series: Untamed City #1
Published by HarperCollins
Pub Date: September 4th 2012
Pages: 306
Format: ARC | Source: Gifted
Genres: RomanceUrban FantasyYoung Adult
Buy the book! | Goodreads

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.

Check out the awesome trailer!

Update On This Series

Since posting this review, the name of the book and cover have changed as follows…

Carnival of Secrets

About Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr is the author of the bestselling Wicked Lovely series as well as the adult fantasy novels Graveminder and The Arrivals. When not writing, editing, or traveling, Melissa is buried under a plethora of books, dogs, and children in Virginia or online at

Jess @ Gone with the Words

20 Responses to “Review: Carnival of Souls (Carnival of Secrets) by Melissa Marr”

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    Amy @ bookgoonie

    This sounds intense & unique. Marr does have a way with creating rich dark worlds. I don’t think I’ve seen a trailer that really tried to visualize a book quite like this one.

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    I am super jealous that you’ve read this already!!! I’m stuck on campus and dying to read this book. I loved Wicked Lovely and cannot wait to read this one. The characters sound amazing. I get what you mean about the guys too and can’t wait to meet the ones in Carnival of Souls!!!

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    Kristilyn (Reading in Winter)

    This sounds great! I love that there are so many little love stories. :) I just bought this book last week at a book signing. Can’t wait to read it!

    • Avatar

      Jess @ Gone with the Words

      So jealous you went to her book signing! I had to miss it when she came here a couple of weeks ago :( Hope you love it!!

  4. Avatar

    Jessica@a GREAT read

    Nice review! I am still debating about this one myself! This is only the second review I’ve read and so far I am leaning towards getting the read! Can’t wait! It sounds exciting and I am curious to know more about the characters and the new world Melissa has created!

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    You liked this one a little more than I did, but I totally agree that it’s one of the most unique books I’ve read so far this year. And I also liked Aya way better than Mallory. Mallory was ok, but as you said, she spends most of the book being babied and she doesn’t know who she really is. I found it kind of hard to connect to her because of it.

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      Jess @ Gone with the Words

      Thanks, Karen! I’m totally a Melissa Marr fangirl, so it doesn’t surprise me that I liked this book more than most. I’m glad you enjoyed some aspects of it though!! :D

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    I thought that CARNIVAL was so super unique. Like you, I really fell HARD for both Kaleb and Belias. Marr created two amazing characters with them. Super glad you liked this one as much as I did, Jess! I hope we see some more character growth out of Mallory in the sequel.

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    Asheley (@BookwormAsheley)

    OK. This is the third blog post for this today (I’m backtracking on blogs since my little blog break.) I will admit to you that I have never read any Melissa Marr.

    I know, I know. *shame*

    My problem is that I have this weird quirk where I sometimes need to read the books in the order they were written by the author. I WANT to read this one so much but I cannot bring myself to do it. I really think I’m gonna have to be a weirdo and start at Marr’s beginning and work my way through to it by way of the Wicked Lovely series. WHY CAN’T I BE A NORMAL READER? WHY?

    Seriously, though, everyone seems to love Marr and people say that I can’t go wrong. I love the concept of The City, the caste system, and you are the first person that I’ve seen say that the masks’ colors represent different things. So I’m interested in this one. I’m just to weird to pick it up first. *hides*

    • Avatar

      Jess @ Gone with the Words

      I TOTALLY understand this!! I do that sometimes too. If you’re going to read her Wicked Lovely series, may I suggest the audiobooks? They change narrator after the first book, and I absolutely LOVED the second narrator. Highly recommend it. :)

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    I’ve been marking this post as “unread” in my google reader since you posted it! I wanted to finish the book first so as not to go in with preconceived notions. Then I saw Marr at the National Book Festival and it was so cool to hear her talk about themes of ‘finding family’ and ‘caste and social systems’ really made me think of her book in a whole new light.

    I really enjoyed the read. I think that Mallory was wooden for me as a character. But I got why she had to be at the end. She was so withheld due to magic – I don’t think she ever got to be her own person. Now I’m dying for book two!

    P.S. I also love the multiple relationships. Gives me so much more to look forward to without the fear of a love triangle!

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