Author : Stephanie Garber
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 01/31/17
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.
★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆
“‘We are all of us dark creatures,’ Navi said, ‘but if we linger in those shadows, we’ll be lost. Instead we must seek the light when we can, and that’s just what you’re doing.”
Caraval has been on my TBR for quite a while and I actually had a copy sitting on my shelf when Legendary first appeared on NetGalley. I knew if I didn’t invest before the second installment, then I probably never would (see: ACOTAR series still sitting on my shelf). So my plan was to binge-read both Caraval and Legendary back-to-back this month.. and I am so glad that I did. I would be dying right now if I had to wait a year for Legendary.
I loved the whimsical atmosphere of the novel and how unique and likable the characters all were (even the ‘bad guys’… especially the ‘bad guys’). The setting of the game/performance of Caraval was beautiful and magical and very dream-like. Sometimes it reminded me of Alice falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland… a very trippy, yet beautiful place where everything seems to be a cross between reality and fantasy.
I love that the relationship between the two sisters was the ‘show runner’, not the romance (even though that was amazing as well)! The lengths that Scarlett would go to in order to protect her sister was beautiful and even though we don’t spend a lot of time with Tella in the novel–her personality captured me right away and I fell in love with her character.
Honestly… this would have been a perfect 5-star-read for me, had there not been this one, very odd, disturbing scene involving blood. I’m so glad that scene wasn’t at the beginning of the novel, because I probably would have just walked away from the book at that point with a ‘wtf’ look of bewilderment stamped across my face. Seriously–weirded me out!
Caraval has my favorite type of ending–ties up most loose ends and is largely satisfying, but gives you just enough of a cliffhanger to make you yearn for more of the story. I have already started Legendary this week and I am thrilled to say that it seems to be living up to the same level of whim and wander and I cannot wait to see where this novel takes them next!
I know this book is already widely-loved and known, but if you love fantasy (especially YA fantasy) and haven’t read Caraval, I would highly recommend it!
Trigger Warning(s): Child Abuse, Violence, Suicide