Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: (Caraval #1)
Pub. Date: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: Read with Tessa
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.
Caraval is the kind of book that has an abundance of amazing, gushing reviews about how glorious the writing is and how magical the story itself is, and how brilliant the characters and their development are. All the hype definitely intrigued me, as if the synopsis wasn’t enough, and I was scared of being disappointed going in. I found very quickly that I agreed with the gushing reviews though, and proceeded to immerse myself in the spectacular journey Scarlett finds herself embarking, which I very much enjoyed! All the trickery and deceit, magic and twists and surprises no one sees coming, really entwine together perfectly to give us this magical, thrilling, and mind-twisting tale full of intriguing characters and situations.
“He’d been plying the role of a villain for so long, he’d become one in real life.” (97%)
No matter how amazing my predictions were, they never happened. It made reading so much more fun, to think so certainly that you know exactly what’s coming, and then BAM! it’s nothing you could have expected, and it’s so much better than anticipated! The game felt so real and tangible, as if I was there as a watcher, watching Scarlett lose her mind in some situations and dominate in others. Everything felt real. It was so difficult to remember it was all a game, even with all the reminders, and Scarlett felt that way too. It is honestly amazing how the author executed the game, with all the twists and plays, the devious little mind tricks, the hunt for clues mixed with all these paths that have destruction and chaos on them. This is a deadly, violent and dark game; but remember, it’s just a game.
I was actually very surprised to find romance in this book, even though I expected there to be some. Perhaps it is just who it was between that surprised me. Either way, it was very enjoyable to read. The romance is a slow, sweet burn that blossomed into this marvelous rose of adoration and affection, one you can’t help but enjoy. I definitely want more of this in the sequel!
“Don’t look at me like that,” Scarlett said. “It doesn’t work on me.”
“That’s why it’s fun.” (22%)
As for character development, I can see why everyone enjoys it. Scarlett grows a lot in this book, and the more we learn of Julian and Legend, the more we see how they could have changed as well. Donatella however, didn’t seem to change at all. She is still the devious, bright, happy girl she was in the beginning, only now Scarlett realizes how far she would go to protect Scarlett as well. Suffice it to say, I am definitely looking forward to seeing them in the sequel and how they might continue to grow.
Overall, Caraval is a quick, engrossing read. I recommend trying it!