Author: Stephanie Garber
Series: Caraval, #1
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 1/31/17
Read All About It:
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.
Strap yourself in because I’m about to start gushing over this book!! Gush. Ing. In case it needs clarifying, I love this book!! Just from the description it sounded interesting and with so many amazing author blurbs and reviews coming in, the bar was set quite high. But Caraval surpassed the bar in my opinion making it my favorite read of 2016!!
The beginning starts of in kind of a Pirates of the Caribbean type setting, but as Scarlett reaches the island Caraval takes place on, the setting blossoms into what I pictured as an old fashioned city with magical charmed elements. As the game goes on the world-building just gets better and better. The game itself is described as having lush curtain-lined balconies for the spectators to watch from while the floor below is basically a whole city with Venice-like canals that separate the buildings and areas. I could feel Scarlett’s wonder at this new place as easy as if I were there experiencing it too.
One of my favorite parts besides the setting is the description of Scarlett’s dresses. Garber did a fantastic job of adding little details about each of them. I wanted them all by the end! Just like the rest of the book they seemed whimsical, full of magic, and stunning.
The relationships between Scarlett and Tella as well as Scarlett and Julian were also fantastic. Since Tella is kidnapped we don’t see her much, but the love Scarlett shows for her sister is so strong. Seeing their support for one another really helped me as a reader feel Scarlett’s anxiety to try and find her during Caraval. Julian is the guy who helps Scarlett and Tella escape to Caraval. When Tella is taken he agrees to help Scarlett, but he seems to know way too much about the game and Legend. Julian’s mysteriousness just creates one more thing to figure out, in a good way. Can we trust him? Is he Legend?
That same theme of trusting goes throughout the books as there are numerous reminders to remember it is just a game. But the further Scarlett was drawn in I found myself unsure what was real and what was just part of the game. Could I trust it was a game or real? The dark aspects of Legend and Caraval made it hard to tell. It was like I was participating in the game as one of the spectators (you know, like a spectator actually there). This just added a level of suspense and anticipation to the book that kept me sucked into the action.
While the end in general is fantastic, I was pleasantly surprised to see the set up for a sequel. Considering this is Stephanie Garber’s debut book, I can’t wait to see where this series goes and what else she will write. This book is just so so sooo good. With an amazing cover too!
Have you read it? What is your favorite part? Favorite cover (US vs UK)? Go buy this when it comes out!!