Caraval, by Stephanie Garber, is another book I read a while ago so please forgive me if this review isn’t very detailed (again). I fully intended to review it immediately, but life got in the way, and here we are three weeks later.
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.
First things first, Hodder and Stoughton pulled out all the stops on Caraval in the UK. The cover is gorgeous anyway, but lift the dustjacket and there are five different designs (a dress, a rose, a circus tent, a clock and a top hat) embossed in gold on the hardcover. Mine had the rose, but the clock is my favourite, and the one I would have chosen if I hadn’t ordered my copy online. I don’t have the room to have multiple copies of books, but Caraval sorely tempted me!
Secondly, if you’re a fan of mysterious, handsome male characters, you will love this book. I fell in love with Julian almost immediately, even though I was fairly sure he was going to turn out to be a scoundrel (I won’t tell you if I was right or not *g*). The chemistry between him and Scarlett felt like it was hot enough to burn the page. I was rooting for them as a couple straight away and even if I’d liked nothing else about the book, I’d have kept reading for that potential romance.
Fortunately, I did like almost everything else in the book. Caraval is magical. I was expecting more of a circus setting, and that’s not what I got – Caraval is a game set up in a small town that’s dfferent every year, so there are inns to stay in, a theatre building, bridges to cross and catacombs to explore and it sounded fascinating. I’d love to visit (though probably as a observer!). I would have liked to see more of Tella, but the other characters we meet are interesting, and I liked the way information was gradually revealed. Scarlett could be a bit annoying, but her trust issues were understandable given her upbringing, and it was clear her priority at all times was her sister. They had a wonderful relationship and I loved that they looked after each other.
I really enjoyed reading Caraval and would definitely recommend it. I’m looking forward to the sequel!
Have you read Caraval? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!