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.
Publisher: HarperCollins, 306 pages
Witches and Daimons are suffering under an age-old beef that has them strategizing and fighting for revenge or power in this other world, known as The City. A world controlled by a rigid caste systems. Kaleb and Aya are fighters in a once-a-generation battle royale where the winner gets to jump the caste system to join the influential ruling group.
If you’re familiar with Melissa Marr books, the Summer Fairies of Wicked Lovely would have done well in The City’s Carnival of Souls — a centrally-located market where people, murder and pleasures are bought and sold.
The only and best way to describe this book is blunt. Raw. There are no smoothed-over corners or soft edges. The fights, of which there are many, are oozing and gritty — as is the blood, the sewing up of deep wounds and tonics. The romance isn’t so much a blooming of feelings but a kiss and instant connection ending in immediate love. There are minimal gestures, facial expressions and hardly any description of the characters, other than their movements in fights or other tense situations. You won’t find much subtly here.
But once I understood this. That I wasn’t being coddled as a reader but thrown into the deep end, I enjoyed the pacing, the strategizing, the gameplay. The large cast of characters are twisted and careening toward something big.
And Aya, I’m cheering for you, girl!