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A Reader of Fictions: Audiobook Review: Carnival of Souls

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, October 8, 2012

Audiobook Review: Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls
Carnival of Souls, Book 1

Author: Melissa Marr
Narrator: James Marsters
Duration: 8 hrs, 5 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Source: Harper Audio for review

Description from 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.


Review:
I've been a Melissa Marr fan since Wicked Lovely, though I admit that I've gotten way behind, having missed reading several of her more recent books. This one, though, I simply knew that I had to listen to, because James Martsters, so I made time. Melissa Marr's newest differs quite a bit from her Wicked Lovely series, but shares the dark romance and gritty world building that I enjoyed so much in those books.

Mallory has been raised knowing that daimons and witches exist, that her father, Adam, is a witch. Because of something he stole from the daimon ruler, she and Adam move constantly, and she's never had the chance to get close to anyone but him. What the reader knows and Mallory does not is that what Adam Stole is Mallory, the daughter of the daimon ruler, Marchosias. She is a daimon, but has been trained how to kill them, tutored on the use of firearms.

Witches and daimons do not get along. They fought wars over The City, and the daimons won, thanks to the leadership of Marchosias. The witches live hidden in the human world; the daimons live in the demon world, comprised of The City and the Untamed Lands. The City is dark, violent, sordid, and built around a rigid social hierarchy. In an effort to provide the slightest chance of social mobility to his citizens, Marchosias hosts a competition, wherein daimons can sign up to battle, the winner obtaining high rank and a position in the government. It's rather like The Hunger Games, only made up of a series of individual battles during a long span of time, and the battles do have the option of ending in forfeiture, though forfeiting, for those in the lower castes, ends in fates worse than death.

The story opens with Mallory, in the throes of her first real crush upon a boy named Kaleb. Reality strikes a blow when her dad announces that they have to move yet again. However, she runs into Kaleb unexpectedly before the move and they bond. What she does't know is that Kaleb is a Cur, the lowest of the daimons, and that he is fighting in the competition in pursuit of higher social status for himself and his pack mate. Even more, Kaleb has been contracted to murder Mallory, and he has been befriending her to that end. Their romance, while initially disgustingly saccharine recovers itself in Mallory's sane reactions to knowledge when she obtains it. Though I do feel bad for Kaleb's status and the life he's had to live, I still cannot like him because of how he behaves. Mallory, again, I sympathize with, but feel no real bond to because she's not had enough life experience or self-awareness to really have a personality yet.

I have to say that I was really confused at first when the story switched away from Mallory to other characters. The transition was awkward and, on audio, you always wonder if you've missed something, accidentally skipped a chapter somehow. Furthermore, all of the Melissa Marr novels I've read followed one particular character and I expected this to do the same. Anyway, Aya and Belias, the other two main character, ended up being my favorites and I'm so glad she included them, even if it did make the story a bit harder to follow.

Aya, a high caste woman, signed up to fight in the competition, the only woman ever to do so. That she did this is scandalous, both because women are for breeding and because, as a high caste woman, she already has high status. Her reasons are twofold: 1) she does not want to breed ever 2) she wants to be part of the government to improve life in the daimon world. Her situation is further complicated by her ex, Belias, who would have been her marriage partner and whom she does love (marriage without breeding is not an option for daimons), who enters the competition in a misguided attempt to save her and win her back. The tensions between these two delighted me. Aya, of course, I love because she doesn't want children and refuses to fall into gender roles. Holla!

Though the characterization could use work, I still highly enjoyed Carnival of Souls' plot and world building. I have hopes that the characters improve in the next book in the series.

Rating: 4/4

Narration:
I probably wouldn't have gotten around to reading this novel for a while had James Marsters not done the narration. Who doesn't want Spike to read to them for hours? Of course, I was expecting the British accent he used on Buffy, but he doesn't talk like that here. This turns out not to be a hardship, though, because James Marsters voice is marvelous to listen to in any incarnation, and I do mean any, since the Curs talk in annoying southern accents.

Marsters has serious talent for audio narration, and I sincerely hope he continues to narrate this series and other audiobooks. He really is, Spike fangirling aside, one of the best narrators I've had the good fortune to listen to thus far. He even does a good job with the voices of the girls, even though many professional audiobook narrators struggle with the voices of the opposite gender. His narration for Carnival of Souls was all that I hoped and more.

Rating: 5/5

Audio or Print?:
Did you not read all of that about how James Marsters is the freaking best? LISTEN TO THIS BOOK.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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12 Comments:

Blogger Lilian said...

A Close to perfect rating? This is the first positive review I've seen for this one...I watched some reviews for it on youtube, and some people really disliked this one--so my interest in it died.
But it seems like you're really liking the narrator--so I might pick it up in audio~

October 8, 2012 at 12:29 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Really? I looked on GR after I read your comment and it looks like most people liked it. All of my friends did. It definitely had some issues, which I could see being highly frustrating for some readers, but, mostly, I just thought it was entertaining.

Also, the audio was really well done. DEFINITELY GO FOR AUDIO, NOT PRINT.

October 8, 2012 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I...I...don't know why everyone on Youtube doesn't like it then. NOW I FEEL LIKE I SAID A LIE OR SOMETHING.

OKAY. Maybe the audiobook is made out of magic powder. I hope it shows up at the library. *looks on Amazon* audiobooks are so expensive...*sigh*
and Audible scares me. I heard that they are one of those companys that refuse to let you cancel their membership by maiing you go through hoops.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

October 8, 2012 at 12:41 PM  
Blogger Kat Balcombe said...

I really wasn't sure about this one - the synopsis is pretty far out of my comfort zone. But it sounds like the narration made it far more appealing - I might have to give this one a while!

October 8, 2012 at 3:15 PM  
Blogger Kat Balcombe said...

While? Grrrr, that's WHIRL!

October 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Meh, it's not a lie. There were definitely things I didn't like, and it probably would have been a 3 or 3.5 in print, but it's hard to say.

Hopefully your library gets it. I haven't had issues with Audible, but I haven't done much with it either. *shrugs*

October 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM  
Blogger Kat Balcombe said...

I think Audible's customer service is actually pretty good - I've changed my membership (including cancelling it) several times and never had a problem. They also let you return audiobooks you don't like which is pretty awesome!

October 8, 2012 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

The narration was so good! Although narration is subjective, but hey. Oh, also, I didn't know Audible let you return stuff. That is AWESOME!

October 8, 2012 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Audrey (Bibliosaurus Text) said...

I really hope my library gets this on audio soon, because I just couldn't make my way through the print book.

October 8, 2012 at 6:57 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have liked it so much were I not listening to it.

October 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I just recently listened to this audiobook as well. I laughed a little because your opinion of James Marsters narrating very much mirrored mine. I thought he was great and tend to agree that I probably wouldn't have liked the book as well if it hadn't of been for his narration. It's a great review you wrote.

October 9, 2012 at 8:59 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh yay! He was so fantastic. I just want him to read to me all the time! I'm sure that could be arranged...right?

October 10, 2012 at 7:58 AM  

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