Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: YA, Fantasy
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.
Though I do read YA I usually tend to pick up contemporary YA, I don’t read very many fantasy novels, it’s just not my thing. However, from the first time that I saw this stunning cover and read the enticing blurb, I knew that I had to read Caraval. (The cover is even more gorgeous in person by the way.) From the very first page I was completely swept away and dazzled by Caraval and my interest never wavered for one second.
First and foremost I have to talk about the world that Garber created here. It is beyond magical and enchanting, I’m blown away by her creativity and her vision. Her writing style is so detailed and vivid that you can easily and clearly picture what you’re reading. Caraval is a quirky and bizarre place where a game is being played, remember it’s just a game…I forgot this simple message many times as I was so captivated by this epic tale.
I love a story about the bonds of sisterhood and Scarlett and Tella had such a strong love and connection with each other. Though Tella is absent for most of the story as she’s been kidnapped as part of the game, she is never far from Scarlett’s mind so you still feel as if you have a strong sense of who she is and what she stands for. Their father is a cruel and calculated man and his mean streak has made them closer than ever. Julian helps the girls travel to Caraval and from his first scene I was charmed by him. He’s a rogue and devilishly handsome and many times I wondered what he was really playing at.
I had heard that this was being compared to The Night Circus and while I can see why, Caraval stands firmly on its own. Yes, there are similar elements, however this experience was totally unique and had a darker feel that I loved. You’re always wondering what is real and what is just an illusion, afterall it’s a game meant to puzzle and confound. I was pleasantly surprised by all the plot twists and turns and Garber meticulously crafted this in a way that left me reeling. The ending was fantastic and had me craving more and not wanting this wickedly delicious game to end. This book will undoubtedly be HUGE in the new year, if you haven’t already preordered it, you’re going to want to do it now.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to Flatiron Books for my review copy.