I gotta say that if you were a fan of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, then this book will be perfect for you.
Caraval by Stephanie Garber is the first in a new YA fantasy series.
“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 love when authors add other forms of media into their books. In this one, the story is introduced in the form of letters. From then on, I was immediately drawn into the world of performances and magic.
This was a VERY QUICK read. I could not put this book down to save my life which led to me cramming the entire thing in a day. The story grabbed my attention from page one, and it just kept getting better and better.
I could feel the emotions between her, her sister, and her father. I could feel how their harsh circumstance lead to the main character’s perspective. You can tell from the beginning that she isn’t able to take on change effectively and that the love for her sister trumps everything. The other characters in the book are nicely complementary to the plotline, and it was fun to see the changes in them between the beginning and ending of this installment. I was very surprised.
The plot itself felt more like a mix between a circus and carnival but set inside part of a magical city. The concept of Caraval (the game within the story) reminded me a lot of the idea behind the Mad Hatter. There was a lot of unexplained magical realism as the story progressed but it isn’t like Harry Potter-magical… more like Carnival-magical with the weird tricks that the game plays on those involved. I loved reading the extensive world building.
I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. There was a ton of moments where my heart was literally racing along with the characters. I liked how the driving force for this book was the relationship between Scarlett and Tella. And OMG, the ending will make you question the entire book. It threw me into a 180 when the whole thing came together. I was NOT expecting that to happen. I absolutely adored this book.
This book brings the game of Clue, fear, and sisterhood to the forefront of the performance of Caraval. The entire book was a puzzle that I even struggled to try to piece together. I REALLY CANNOT WAIT FOR BOOK 2 to come out!!! Sadly, it’ll be at least a year before that happens… When I finished this book, I so badly wanted to re-read it to experience it all over again. I highly recommend it if you like magical, mystery games within a fantasy world. You will not be bored.
Published: 31 January 2017
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
How I Read It: ARC from BEA 2016
**Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher during BEA 2016. Nothing in my book reviews are influenced in any way and contain my honest opinions only.**
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