Author: Stephanie Garber
Related Words: magic, legend, mystery, scavenger hunt, games
Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tell, 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, one-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.
General Overview (Without Spoilers)
Caraval was such a great read. It was everything I expected and more. The story completely took me in and I was absorbed with Scarlett’s story and the game of Caraval itself. It was magical, strange (almost Wonderlandish), and soaked in mystery. The reader is constantly kept guessing at what will happen, but there is always a thick coat of uncertainty in the book that makes the reader constantly confused as well.
It was well written and had great characters. The only problem I had was Scarlett; I didn’t like her as much in the beginning. And the beginning of the story also felt weak to me, but it greatly improved as the story progressed. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy stories, magic, and mystery.
Full Review (*With Spoilers*)
The story starts off with the letters that Scarlett wrote to the Caraval master Legend. And it wasn’t until a few years later when Legend finally replied, sending along three tickets to Scarlett, her sister, and her fianceé. It was an interesting start and I thought it was super mysterious. The only irk I had with it was how Scarlett, though she hadn’t wanted to go, had showed the tickets to her sister anyways, who would obviously want to go. And despite being excited for Caraval, she refused to go as well. I felt that if she refused to go, why did she show the tickets to her sister in the first place?
She was always in this state of fear and her personality wasn’t solid. But it was understandable, since she was under the fear of her father and her wedding day was approaching. But then when she reached Caraval, I also felt her character wasn’t very strong until about the end, when her struggle felt more real.
Julian was a great addition to the story, and there was always constant question about who he really was. That mystery of his identity made me keep guessing and I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone, especially when it seemed that he betrayed Scarlett near the ending.
And to find out that the whole time, it had been a game and then none of it was real had been mind-blowing. I had spent so much energy being swept away by this book when all this time, the reader was falling for the same trap as the characters in the book.
The warning on the cover did say, “Remember it’s only a game…”, but as any reader would think, it was just a part of the story and something that was a type of warning to the characters. It was really unexpected that the readers were also tricked into this game. And I loved that.
The way the book wrapped up, the idea of wishes, the idea of magic was all so amazing. The book also left on this cliffhanger sort of note, letting everyone know that the game isn’t over yet.
I give this book a 4.5/5 stars! It was a great read and I really liked it. I definitely can’t wait for the second book and am excited to see what’s in store for the characters!
Have you read Caraval? What did you think of it?