Whatever you've heard about Caraval, it doesn't compare to the reality. It's more than just a game or a performance. It's the closest you'll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Hardcover, 407 pages
Published January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books
Three and a half stars: A book with dazzling magic and lovely writing, but the characters and romance are disappointing.
Scarlett has written letters to the mysterious Legend for seven years, begging him to bring his magical Caraval to her part of the world. Her letters have gone unanswered until the last one. Just days before her arranged marriage, Scarlett finally gets a letter from Legend inviting her and her fiancé as well as her younger sister, Tella, to attend Caraval. Unfortunately, Caraval is a boat trip away, and there is no way Scarlett can leave as she will risk the wrath of her abusive father. Tella has other ideas, and Scarlett soon finds herself waking up in a boat with a handsome sailor, Julian, on her way to Caraval. Once she arrives, Scarlett learns that Tella has been kidnapped by Legend, and to get her sister back, Scarlett must play the elaborate Caraval game. A game full of magic and mischief where one can literally get swept away. Will Scarlett solve the mystery of Caraval and get her sister back?
What I Liked:
- Caraval is one of the buzz books for 2017, and though I have been avoiding hyped books, I couldn't resist this one because I was drawn to the magic and the setting. Needless to say, the world of Caraval and the magical part didn't disappoint. I loved getting swept away into this strange world. If you love books with gorgeous writing, magic and mystery, this is a fun one to try.
- What I loved the most about this book was the setting. Once Scarlett enters the world of Caraval, the book takes off. I loved the strange setting, filled with magic, mirages, mystery and mayhem. This strange world was amazingly crafted and the descriptions were filled with lovely metaphors and similes that I thought were enchanting. I thought the writing was wonderful, and I would recommend reading this one for the Caraval setting and the sumptuous writing.
- I liked that the story had a dreamlike quality, and you never knew what was real or imagined. In Caraval, there are plenty of illusions and strange occurrences that left me wondering as to what was going on. If you think you have it figured out, think again. I enjoyed the mystery and all the twists and turns. This book will keep you guessing until the final pages.
- The ending is satisfactory, and there isn't a cliffhanger or a bunch of nagging questions. Scarlett's story is tied up, while an interesting tidbit is left regarding Tella and a sequel.
And The Not So Much:
- I struggled with the characters. Tella is reckless and wild, and not present for most of the book. I had a hard time understanding Scarlett's love and devotion to her sister because from what little I saw of Tella she was selfish. I never felt the sister bond, and I thought the author should have done a better job showing the sisterly love. Scarlett was a struggle for me throughout. She comes off as rather spineless, and she has naive ideas about life and love. She is determined to escape her father, and she thinks that she will be saved by an arranged marriage to a man she has never meant. She has these Cinderalla like notions that drove me crazy. She does grow throughout the book, but not enough to satisfy me. I wanted her to be bold and fierce. She finally does show some gumption in the final pages, but it was too little too late for me. I was also frustrated with Julian. I wanted to like him, but I never knew who he was. Even when all was revealed at the end, I was still left confused by him.
- The romance didn't really work for me. There really isn't much buildup and then all of a sudden Scarlett is in love. I wanted more development and all of that. It felt to rushed and too much like insta love for me.
- I was left wondering about Scarlett's father and the Count. What happened to them? Not that it was a big important part, but I still wanted to know, and how did they get there in the first place?
- I was also bothered by all the buildup and mystery surrounding Legend. I wanted to get to know the man behind the curtain. Who exactly is Legend?
Caraval is a book that will certainly appeal to many readers. It has a gorgeous and imaginative setting, romance and mystery. I enjoyed the setting and the lovely writing, but I was disappointed in the characters and the hurried romance. Still, I would recommend this one based on the creative storytelling and the stunning setting of Caraval.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.