A few months back my friend and I attended the last day of the BEA publishing conference courtesy of the New York Public Library Power Readers program. You would think an industry of storytelling would be made up of all sorts of wrinkled suits and ragamuffins, but everyone looked really polished and professional. No oddballs?
Every so often a figure would dash from one aisle to another, leaving a trail of more dashers behind her. “Oddball, is that you?” Eventually we realized these were book bloggers who paid to attend the conference and planned to get their money’s worth in the form of free books, aka arcs. As we hadn’t paid to get in, we didn’t bother with the free books, but we did score a bright blue tote at registration.
What does this have to do with Melissa Marr and her most awesomely titled book? Only everything. Someone at BEA handed me a copy of Carnival of Souls and I declined. I couldn’t be bothered to carry a book, even though I had a tote to haul it in. This is also why I can’t be bothered to put away clean clothes after doing laundry or stretch after running. You see I’m part bum and that book has wanted me to read it ever since.
It all begins when a daimon mother brings her child to Adam, one of the eldest witches and a natural enemy of her people. In exchange for his word that he will protect Mallory from her own father, the mother gives up rights to the child. This gives us some indication of what it means when a child is sired by the daimon’s leader Marchosias.
16 years later…
Aya wasn’t as lucky as Mallory in the parental department, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She lives in The City as a member of the highest caste, yet she’s chosen to enter a competition where she must fight other daimons to the death. Others risk it all because if they win they get to join the ruling class. Not Aya. She wants to change their world and to do that she must rule.
We meet Aya as she enters the ring to fight the love of her life, knowing he’s about as likely to drop out as she is. The plot thickens when we learn that Kaleb, another daimon fighter in the competition, has been sneaking off to the human world and fallen for a girl named Mallory.
The story reads a lot like a predictable game of chess, unfortunately. For all the hype and marketing behind this book I expected it to be great, but it never really drew me in. To be fair, I only got through the first of the Wicked Lovely series. I find Marr’s writing unreadably stiff, but my sister enjoyed this book so maybe it’s just me.
You can tell this is the first of a series as it’s mostly all set up. The thing that bothered me the most were the constant summaries of action. Too much over-explanation on top of repetition seriously waters down the pace and feels a little insulting to the reader, who doesn’t need the author connecting every dot for her, that’s the fun of reading.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to readers who like a little more meat to their stories, nuance in world building and depth to the characters. Readers like my younger sister, who love YA fantasy and read fast will probably enjoy it. That’s what my magic crystal book says anyway.
The Book Addicted Girl offers a completely different opinion than mine.