Publisher: Flatiron Books
Published Date: January 31, 2017
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.
I cannot even remember the first time I saw the cover/title for Caraval, but I didn’t care what it was or was about, but it caught my eye and I knew immediately I wanted to read it. I do think it was a year ago, because I proceeded to check Amazon and at times NetGalley (which denied me btw!) for when it would be available. THEN I get January’s Owlcrate – and the teaser for February’s Owlcrate was Carnival themed. I just KNEW it was going to be one of two books (both I wanted) but I really, really hoped it would be Caraval.
What I Loved: This whole book was amazing to me. I loved the setting from even before Scarlett and Donatella reach the Caraval, and especially the setting AFTER they reach Caraval. The world building in this book was amazing. The whole thing is set up that you are constantly wondering what is really happening and what isn’t actually happening, since you’re told from the onset of Caraval that it’s all a game, and nothing is real.
While the beginning was a little bleak with the introduction of Scarlett and Donatella, and in particular, their father; you just know that their lives have been difficult and their existence was a sad one. So once we get to the place where the Caraval is being held, despite Scarlett’s reservations, it’s kind of a relief. Plus that is when the magic starts happening. It’s as of Caraval is cloaked from the outside of the real world, and inside anything is possible.
As a whole, the book has many twists and turns and lots of magic and mystery, but it’s not over-the-top, and I so loved that. It really felt like it was possible, that the mystery of Caraval could be real. The magic felt normal, and aside from it there were many great life lessons to be learned. I enjoyed all aspects of it, the mystery, the magic, the bit of romance held within it.
Not So Much: Both Scarlett and Donatella annoyed me a bit. It was like they were opposite ends of the spectrum, yet the same. They were both selfish and selfless at different moments, but it made it difficult to know what to expect. Donatella was worse, in my opinion. She really did behave very flippantly throughout the book lacking any care or concern for consequences. It was difficult me to attempt a 180 on how I felt about her at the conclusion of the book. I’m really hoping that I fall in love with her in book 2.
I went looking at Stephanie Garber’s website and looked at all the social media pages I could find…do you want to know what I wanted?? I wanted to see the inspiration for all the clothes the characters were wearing. She described them in great detail, don’t get me wrong, but I really just wanted to see pictures.
The Verdict: LOVVVED this book. It was clean as a YA book ever is. I’m pretty sure I remember some mild cussing, but I’ll be honest and say I was pretty well caught up in the story to pay that much attention. I would love to see this in a movie, I think it would be fantastic on the big screen.