Review: Carnival of Secrets - Melissa Marr
Series: Untamed City #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Published on September 4, 2012
Published by HarperCollins
Read From: 10.21.12 - 10.21.12
Final Rating: 3/5 strawberries
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 for 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.
Cover Blurb: I liked the old cover better!! *pouty face* The old cover had a fiery mask on the front. This . . . is boring. Is she floating in a puddle of chilled cucumber soup?
What I Liked: I was glad the Mallory carried a gun (and several other weapons) and wasn’t afraid to use them. I also like Aya - she was believable as a fighter, and didn’t have The Attitude. The character interactions were all good, I liked the pace, and I was glad that the Author didn’t drag out Mallory’s ignorance over what she is when she finally finds out. Kaleb was a character that was easily pitied, though he wasn’t my favorite for a lot of reasons (a lack of morals, as well as being too emotional).
What I Disliked: It’s really hard to choose a favorite character in this story, because they all lack honor of some sort. While Kaleb despises himself for selling his body to people, he doesn’t seem to mind the idea of being one of the customers. The same with Aya: she’ll have intercourse so long as she doesn’t get pregnant, and Mallory comments that if she’d met boys like Kaleb before, she would have lost her virginity a long time ago, clearly stating that she doesn’t have very strong morals herself, either. And some someone who has been trained in caution since birth, Mallory is super quick to trust Kaleb. I realize that they’re supposed to have some weird special bond, but that doesn’t excuse how fast she’s willing to put her trust in this bond. The romance, also, happens way too fast.
Believability: The problem with fictional caste-based systems is Authors always provide an opportunity for low-caste people to advance to the elite. It doesn’t work like that. The reason for a law against guns in The City doesn’t even make sense: if you’re going to kill someone, you have to do it “fairly?” What?
Writing Style: It actually was pretty good; pleasing and not horribly movie-ish. The plot’s pacing is neither too slow nor too fast, and she gives Readers a protagonist who isn’t afraid to carry a gun!!!! Yay!!
Content: 1 f-word. There is no explicit sexual content, but there is a constant sexual undertone, with all of the references to whoring, pleasure stalls, and breeding. Also, Kaleb and Ziva both have sold themselves multiple times so they wouldn’t starve, so that comes up in conversation more than once.
Conclusion: The conclusion is exciting and should have a very good sequel. This definitely wasn’t a boring read, and the premise was interesting. It would have been nice to have more likable characters, though, and the sexual undertones got very tiring after a while. But I am curious to see how the series ends.
Recommended Audience: Fans of “witch stories” and edgy romantic relationships, but don’t mind a gritty world. Girl-and-guy read, older audience due to sexual undertones.
Others in the Untamed City Series:
1)Carnival of Souls
2)Carnival of Lies