Author: Stephanie Garber
Date Published: January 31st, 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her 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 faraway, 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. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic.
The world of Caraval was far more fantastical and breath-taking than I expected. With the synopsis promising great things, I was unsure about whether it would live up to it, but it certainly did!
The book is centered on Scarlett and her sister Tella, two young women stuck on an island with their abusive father and no way out of the situation other than for Scarlett to marry. It does not take long before Scarlett is being whisked off to Caraval despite her desire to stay and get married. The focus of the book is on Scarlett finding Tella – a motive which forces Scarlett to take part in Caraval.
The setup of this book is wonderfully done, the focus is on Scarlett and the book is written from her POV however the story feels as though it is about far more than just Scarlett. It is a complex story that intertwines multiple character stories. Julian was a wondaful character, he was mysterious, funny, and bold, everything that Scarlett needs in her life. The romance was well done but Julian played a much more important role than just a love interest and I was always rooting for Julian despite all the suspicion placed on him. Julian was introduced early on and played a key role throughout and though Scarlett was never quite sure where she stood with him, he became very important to her.
The game was far more than a competition and I constantly found myself wishing I could take part. Caraval has a dark feel but the ‘anything could happen’ atmosphere fitted perfectly and made the story incredibly intriguing. The book was full of surprises, some minor and some major but ever one had me hooked and I sped through the book, constantly needing to know more.
The whole world of Caraval was such a stunning concept and I loved every part of it. I couldn't have ever guessed the ending and it was intense and shocking, but everything finally made sense, and the final surprise at the end had me immediately reaching for Legendary! Everything was incredibly well thought out and nothing was missing (it all comes together throughout the series), even though you spend most of the book unsure as to what is happening… but this just made it all the more fascinating. Garber brought this world together beautifully with so many surprises and questions, and beautifully done magic and illusions, I found myself getting lost in the game. I would definitely recommend, and it will be one I will undoubtedly re read, though nothing will quite capture the magic as it’s read for the first time.
Rating: 5 star