Caraval by Stephanie Garber (Caraval #1)
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Summary: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.
My Thoughts: Caraval is an immersive and page turning YA Fantasy! With elements of mystery and wonder throughout, Garber’s debut will have you turning the page!
So, I’ve finally read Caraval!! To be honest I was so worried about reading this book because I’d heard so much pre-release hype and heard such amazing things well before & after release!
I’m so glad I gave Caraval a chance, because I ended up really really enjoying it!🎪✨🌹
I also managed to somehow get my hands on an ARC of Legendary through Yallwest and after reaching the end of Caraval, can’t wait to read/review it!!
Scarlett has wished her entire life to go to Caraval and finally witness the magic and wonder she’s heard stories about since she was little & maybe even get a chance to meet the mysterious Caraval master, Legend!
With a difficult home life, living with a manipulative + abusive father, and arranged marriage, however, she is unsure whether her dreams of attending Caraval will ever come true!
Although she is invited by Legend himself and finds herself with a spark of hope again, she’s doubtful she’ll ever be able to make it.
Tella and Scarlett couldn’t be more different. Tella is the younger, but more outgoing of the two. She’s no stranger to romance and maybe even danger.
As Scarlett is about to share the news of Legend’s letters to Tella, she see’s her fooling around with a mysterious sailor, Julian!
Scarlett shares the news with Tella and Julian provides a way for them to make it to Caraval. Scarlett isn’t sure it’ll be so easy, but she has no choice when her sister and Julian team up to take Scarlett & leave the Isle Of Trisda behind to make it to Caraval and escape their father + Scarlett’s arranged marriage!
Things however take a different turn when Tella goes missing as Scarlett gets dragged into Caraval!
Now Julian and Scarlett have to team up when they soon realize that Tella has become a part of Caraval and have about 4 nights to find her and maybe even earn a wish, but everything isn’t what it seems.
Through the mystery and suspense, Caraval becomes such an immersive and fun read! As we follow Scarlett on the hunt for her sister, the magic and dark secrets of Caraval, come to light!
The mystery of the plot built a lot of suspense and really heightened the stakes, which for me, made the story unexpected and overall made just fun in trying to piece everything together through the twists and turns!
I was taken by surprise at the plot twists a number of times, which made the book really unique, fun to read as well and just helped to continue building the suspense and mystery!
It made the story such a page turner, not only through the way Garber built mystery but also through the puzzles throughout Scarlett’s Caraval adventure!
The characters all really came to life and through Garber’s writing the plot itself was so immersive + cinematic!!
Garber brings such life to her characters and I loved each and everyone! They were all written in a way where its so easy to picture who they were and have them become so real on the page!
From Scarlett, Tella, Julian, Aiko, the mysterious Legend, and so many others, every single character brought so much to this story and made Caraval such an engaging read!!
While I loved pretty much all of the characters, I really loved Julian and Aiko!! Aiko is a mysterious girl with an even more mysterious journal who helps Scarlett along the way during Caraval, when Scarlett + Julian get split up for a bit!!
She was a fun, sassy, and witty character & she easily became one of my favorites, along-side Julian!!
As mentioned above, Garber’s writing easily pulls you into the magical story of Caraval and makes her world so cinematic and immersive! Additionally, because its also written in 3rd person, it allowed for such an expansive view of Caraval itself and helps to build the mystery + eeriness of the story so well!
I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant b/c of the length of Caraval, but was so surprised at how quickly the pages were flying by!
No matter what page I stopped reading, every time I picked it back up I was immediately transported back to Caraval!
You can also feel and see the love that Scarlett has for Tella and what she’s willing to sacrafice for her, even if Tella & Scarlett don’t see eye-to-eye on everything!
This reminded me so much of Wintersong, in a great way!! From the sisterly bond and the mystery!! Not only that, but both older sisters show such determination to get their sisters back!! ❤
I really found that sisterly bond through Scarlett’s actions and thoughts throughout Caraval to really drive the story as she tries to find her before others can reach her first & Caraval comes to an end!
Now as to some of the cons…
For me personally, I did find the writing to get a bit dull and repetitive, when colors were used to describe/tell so much of the setting or emotions. While I liked how it offered nice visuals for the story, I was hoping for a different type of descriptive writing-style to bring more magic to the setting!
Additionally, I felt the plot built up so much mystery for Caraval & Legend, that I personally wanted a bit more from the ending when things are finally revealed.
Other than Caraval itself, the other elements of the world (various Isles & Continents) were mentioned, but never really given much development or expansion.
However, aside from those elements Caraval surprised me more than I thought it would and I am beyond excited to see where Garber takes Legendary!
Caraval is a fun and immersive YA Fantasy!! With a page-turning plot and mystery to keep you hooked, Garber’s magical tale will have you guessing as you follow Scarlett on her adventure throughout the mysterious game of Caraval!!