Published by Flatiron Books on January 31st 2017
Remember, it’s only a game…
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. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.
I bought Caraval by Stephanie Garber as a birthday present for myself and finally read it. I saw many people comparing it to The Night Circus, one of my favourite books ever, and I see why they compare them.
Caraval is a game, except you probably don’t realise how far this game goes. Scarlett has an obsession for Caraval since her grandmother talked about her adventures during the game. The beginning of the book felt cruel to me, but it was necessary to build the scene. Scarlett’s and Donatella’s father has to be a tyrant and we need to see what this man did and why the girls are so motivated to get away from the island.
The story is filled with twists and turns. I thought I had figured out who Legendary was, but no. I loved how the whole intrigue is worked out, and, man, am I glad that everything was properly explained at the end. If not, I’d have read the book a second time right after finishing it. This is the strength of Caraval. Not just the book, but also the game itself. You know parts of what you see (read) aren’t real. You know that you’re being manipulated. You probably know that everyone in that world has a purpose. But what’s at the heart of it all? How much are you willing to give?
The writing is excellent and I like all of the characters. None of them are what they seem. Scarlett’s point of view isn’t naive, but she doesn’t fully realise what Caraval was about. Stephanie did an amazing job as showing us little hints, but never revealing too much beyond a second layer (there’s a third and possibly a fourth). It builds suspense and keeps you reading.
I give Caraval five stars. I know that I’ll read this series again in a few years, if the other books are just as good. Highly recommended if you’re into fantasy with a lot of intrigue and twists. Be ready to be played and manipulated.
My sister in law bought Legendary so I can jump right in. I might wait and read something else first until I have Finale as well, since it just came out. (Anyone wants to buy me a birthday present in three weeks?)