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.So you may have heard of second book syndrome, but you probably haven't heard of first book syndrome which is where the first book in a series is just building up the rest of the series and lacks action, meaning that it's slow and drags. I totally found that this book suffered from first book syndrome because whilst I was interested, I was never fully engaged in this book, I regret to say.
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.
At first I thought I was going to love this book - we're thrown into the ordinary lives of our three main characters. Mallory is the daughter of two daimons but is brought up by a witch in the human world to hate daimons, Kaleb is a poor, low caste daimon who is fighting in a tournament in order to become rich and save himself and his friend Zevi from a life of selling their bodies and stealing and Aya is a rich daimon with a secret taking part in the tournament so she doesn't have to marry. I liked how we're just thrown into these events, which at times is confusing but definitely helped to force my attention. I was also loving Marr's darker narration tone, which she manages to do whilst also including some humour in there.
Unfortunately, it didn't manage to keep my attention for long because the rest of the book seems to drag, it's slow because not much seems to happen - a few people meet and a few secrets are revealed but it's nothing that made me gasp. I like how we got to know the characters, I loved the hyperactive puppy like personality of Zevi and Mallory's 'dad' - a witch called Adam. I didn't like the lack of action, this book just seemed to be setting the plot up for the sequel, which no doubt is going to be action-packed and I will read it, but I would have liked the first book to really sell this series to me, and unfortunately it didn't.
If there is one thing that I really enjoyed about this book it's the setting - I would have loved this book if it had all taken place in the City because it is a gorgeous setting. Marr manages to write this dark city in such a vivid way that I could imagine it - dark and twisted but beautiful and crazy. I just loved that and those parts were my favorite to read.
Overall, this book was too slow for my liking, but I did like the characters and the setting. Marr's hauntingly dark narration was fantastic. Advice: Persevere, I think that this series is going to get better, just a hunch.
Overall Rating: C
Released by HarperCollins on the 4th September 2012
Book received from the UK publisher in exchange for an honest review.