Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Published: January 31 2017
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Buy: Amazon – Book Depository
Australia: Angus & Robertson – Booktopia – Hachette Australia
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Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems.
Scarlett has never left the tiny isle of Trisda, pining from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show.
Caraval is Magic. Mystery. Adventure. And for Scarlett and her beloved sister Tella it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father.
When the sisters’ long-awaited invitations to Caraval finally arrive, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But nonetheless she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.
** Thank you Hachette Australia for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review **
Scarlett and Tella grew up listening to their grandmother’s magical stories about Caraval, a kind of interactive performance that requires personal invites to attend. The girls have always wanted to attend, but never had the means. Unbeknownst to Tella, Scarlett has been writing letters to Caraval’s leader, Legend, for years. Scarlett is shocked to find that Legend not only writes her back, but also includes tickets. Events go down and Scarlett is taken to a magical island where Caraval is taking place. It’s definitely not what she imagined though and Scarlett discovers that Tella has been taken and it’s now part of the game to find her. Scarlett’s main focus now is getting Tella back without getting too swept away with the illusions of Caraval because “it’s only a game“, right?
The writing in Caraval is absolutely magical. If you’re looking for a whimsical fantasy that will sweep you away then this is 100% that book. The setting in this book is so vivid you’re able to imagine everything so perfectly. You’ll question everything that’s happen and it will feel as though you’re playing the game of Caraval as much as Scarlett is. Stephanie Garber created such an interesting and unique world.
I really liked Scarlett as a main character. She’s stubborn, headstrong and incredibly loyal to her sister. Scarlett does make some not so great decisions, but they’re done out of a desperate need to find her sister. I’m okay with characters making some bad decisions if they’re done for the right reasons. We don’t get to see her much, but Tella is a great side character too. Scarlett and Tella are quite opposite of each other, but are a good balance and I hope we get to see more of their sister relationship develop in upcoming books.
If you’ve been here for a while you’ll know that I rarely enjoy the romance in books. Well, the romance in Caraval even managed to win me over. Scarlett’s love interest Julian should have been someone I disliked because he was quite arrogant at times, but I couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
I maybe even developed a slight crush. There was such a great chemistry between him and Scarlett. There was no instalove and whilst I wouldn’t say their romance was a slow build, it definitely wasn’t instant.
My favourite thing about Caraval was easily the world and the game. I felt like I was transported to this magical and mystical island, partaking in everything that was happening. There isn’t a ton of world building, but in this case it worked. It made everything seem so much more alluring and enchanting. Stephanie Garber’s writing is so vivid and beautiful I could still imagine everything perfectly. It’s hard to believe that this is her debut novel because it is so incredibly polished. The game was so fast paced and high stakes my interest didn’t wander once and that is a huge accomplishment.
There’s so many little details and developments along the way that intertwines the characters perfectly and everything is interwoven together so perfectly. There’s great twists along the way too that I guarantee you won’t see coming. This is a story about adventure, sisterhood and standing up for yourself that just so happens to have the added bonus of being set in a fantastical land.
Whilst I haven’t read The Night Circus I know that Caraval has been compared to that. However, from what I can base from that book I think Caraval is actually quite different. I wouldn’t go into this book expecting a similar story because you could potentially be disappointed. Caraval stands on its own and is truly a magical read. I recommend this to everyone because the hype is definitely real. This was was one of my favourite reads of last year and if I had read it this year I know it would have easily made it onto my favourites of 2017 list too.
“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”