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.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
Good for people who enjoy: strong female leads, beautiful scenery description, diverse personality group
Review: Where to begin? The first thing I’d like to point out is how easily it was for my to fall into the rhythm of the world that Stephanie Garber created. Her opening scene already had be empathetic towards the protagonist, Scarlett, even though I didn’t know too much about her yet.
Then, we’re swept away to the magical world that is Caraval, now paired with the love interest, Julian. I’ve always been one who loved the dark, mysterious man. Perhaps that’s why I was shipping the two from the get-go. My only complaint about their relationship is how forgiving of his mistakes she is time after time, with little fight against it. Still, he was so complex with a history that I was dying to figure out. I have to insert my favorite quote in the book here: “Not quite sure how far she’d already fallen, she imagined loving him would feel like falling in love with darkness, frightening and consuming yet utterly beautiful when the stars come out.” I enjoyed his progression throughout the story, and how he softened throughout the novel in regards to his willingness to falling in love.
The relationships between the characters was one of the best parts, in my opinion. Scarlett and her sister Tella’s personalities bounced off of each other in a way that only sisters can. Having two sisters of my own, I could feel the weight that Scarlett felt trying to save her sister. I loved her struggling between loving Tella and loving Julian, and fighting between her own desires and her protectiveness of Tella. Even the minor characters had very strong personalities that made you instantly like or hate them. She was constantly meeting new characters on her journey, trying to decide who was friend or foe. I liked one in particular, Aiko, who just popped in randomly and was awesome.
Caraval itself was a world I’d love to visit. It balanced magical curiosity and imminent danger in a way that I have to give applause to Garber. You wanted to see its wonders and experience everything all at once, even though you knew there was something not quite right. I felt like I was walking right along with Scarlett and could see and feel its pull all around me.
I think what I love most about this book is how I was constantly filled with so many questions that I had such a need to know the answer to right then and there. Garber knows exactly how to give you just enough information to wanting more. This is the first book in a long time that I read in one sitting.
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars
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