“Carnival of Souls” Melissa Marr

ARC (Advance Reading Copy.) To be published September 4, 2012. Harper (Harper Collins). 306 pp.

Mallory and her father Adam have been running from something for years. She knows he’s a witch, and stole something from the daimons, but Adam has kept everything a mystery. She’s been raised to learn of the evils of daimons, and has spent her life learning how to kill them. When she meets Kaleb, her life changes. Secrets are revealed, and she will have to decide who to trust.

Kaleb is a cur, the lowest of the low in the world of daimons. He has struggled and fought his whole life to earn money for food and, because of this, has become one of the top ranked fighters of The City. In the Carnival of Souls, where evil and sensual pleasures take place, he is on his way towards winning Marchosias’ Competition. It is a fight to the death. If he wins, he’ll be elevated to a higher caste and leave the life of the curs behind him forever. If he loses, he dies. He does not intend to lose.

Aya is a top ranked daimon and has the world at her fingertips, but refuses to accept her lot in life. She does not want to get married and be forced to breed. Her only way out is to become a fighter and win Marchosias’ Competition. Against all common sense, and uncaring of those who say a woman should stay at home, Aya has succeeded beyond her wildest imagination. She can sense victory, and her plan to overturn Marchosias and rule The City is within her grasp. She does not intend to lose.

These three lives are interwoven in this fantastical world of daimons and witches. Melissa Marr has woven a spell around each, making them sympathetic characters despite their differences. The cliffhanger ending leaves no doubt there will be a sequel.

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